Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Celebrity encounters--sort of

I have to admit it. I'm impressed by famous people. Well, maybe not impressed—let's say fascinated. I'd like to say that everyone has value and no one's value is more important than anyone else. And I believe that, but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't at least a little bit excited when I'm around someone famous. And I think I'm normal in that way. Psychologists say that some form of this fascination has been going on since the beginning of time. Early on it may have been advantageous to know about those in charge and emulate them. And things evolved from there.

So do I have any interesting stories to tell about meeting someone famous? Well, sort of. There was the time I was at a conference and had a conversation with the governor of WV, John D. Rockefeller IV. At that time I was more impressed with how tall he was (6' 7”) than who he was. (I was a teen. I had an excuse for being shallow.) And then there's country singer and song writer, Tom T. Hall, who used to work at the radio station where I grew up. I don't remember him from then, but learned some interesting things about him several years later when he returned to town, now famous, for a concert. I rode home from the concert with the man who used to be his dentist (my friend's father) and learned all about his dental work over the years. How's that for intimate details of the rich and famous?

But my biggest celebrity encounter was with Bubba Knight, from Gladys Knight and the Pips. I was on business travel and checking into a hotel and beside me was a man also checking in. After they confirmed my reservation, the clerk said, “Ms. Cleaver, this is Bubba.” I wasn't sure what she was talking about, but said, “Hi.” She repeated, “Ms. Cleaver, this is Bubba. Bubba Knight. Bubba Knight of Gladys night and the Pips.” Finally it registered.  I was standing next to someone famous. “Hello, Bubba. Can I have your autograph?” He gladly signed my paper and it was then I noticed that he was wearing a purple suit. That should have clued me in on something earlier. (Gladys is famous for wearing purple.) 

Bubba's flowery handwriting seemed to match his purple suit.
But this "fascinating" encounter doesn't stop there. After I got his autograph, I proceeded to my room, but it turns out that it was already occupied by a couple of men. I guess in all of the excitement that things got messed up at the desk. The men volunteered to switch rooms, but I said that I would get another one. Trying to compensate for my inconvenience, they asked if I would like to have dinner with them. Well, they seemed nice enough, but I thought it wouldn't be too wise to go out with two strange men I just met. But with that decision, I blew my chance for an even bigger celebrity encounter. It turns out that they were old high school buddies of Gladys and her brother, Bubba, and were in town for a reunion. So, I almost had dinner with Gladys Knight. However, the best I got to see was  her drinking a cup of coffee at breakfast the next day.

So, Bubba was my biggest celebrity encounter for many years. In fact, he held top spot until recently when I “met” someone who was not only famous, but had truly stood the test of time proving that he deserved his fame.. And I met him in a place I least expected. Soon I'll tell you all about it.