Sometimes I need prompting. Plinky.com suggested I write about celebrities I’ve met. Or probably write about the circumstances that led up to meeting said celebrities. I doubt the stories are very interesting. In only one situation was alcohol involved and it included an monetary exchange with two very young United States airmen. Get your head out of the gutter and Support Our Troops!
1. Dan Quayle
I don’t really have anything to say about this guy. My father served on security detail on Air Force One while my family lived at Andrews Air Force Base. Whenever AF1 blew onto the flightline, we would sometimes walk out to the incoming flight office and see who decided to show up. Somehow, my neighbor managed to get me up to the steps of the plane where I was placed in a line and told to only shake the guest’s hand and ask absolutely no questions. I was like 13-years old and didn’t care anyway. However, I will tell you that his hand was sweaty and he looked like a walking, talking Madame Tussaud’s wax figure.
2. Dick Cheney
There is a photograph of my father in 1992 or so while serving on Air Force One during his re-enlistment ceremony somewhere over the Rocky Mountains. Some kind of procedural brouhaha goes into such an event and Dick Cheney was the man running the show at the time. Almost a decade later, Dicky C made an appearance in Ocala, Florida while on the campaign trail with George W. Bush. My dad brought this photo with him to the event and I was able to slide myself up to the front row with the picture in hand just as Cheney was heading out the door to leave. “Mr. Cheney! Mr. Cheney! Do you remember THIS!?!?” He looked at the photograph and up at my father, who had managed to stick with me while I plowed my way up front, and with a grin on his face said, “Well, holy…” A handshake and autograph later, the two exchanged whatchabeenuptos and went their separate ways. Regardless of public opinion, Cheney, at that moment, was a truly genuine and nice guy.
3. General John Shalikashvili
I worked at the NCO Club for many years when I was a teenager. Due to state laws, I was not allowed to handle alcoholic beverages until I reached the age of 18 and I was a few years off when I met General Shalikashvili (we’ll now refer to him as Shali…it’s just easier). Two airmen who were attending a formal dinner hosted by the General paid me $25 to serve good ol’ Shali with an alcoholic drink. I was told to hand the glass to the General, point into the crowd at an unsuspecting woman in uniform, and inform the General that Staff Sergeat So-and-So was going to cover his tab for the evening. While this might not sound like a rip-roarin’ wild time, the fact that the event was being attended by so many of the military’s top brass and was considered a formal “dry” ceremony, the joke was actually on the poor Staff Sergeant. The two airmen promised that they would cover for me if word got out that I, the underage waitress, a) served the General an alcoholic drink at a dry ceremony, b) had interrupted a serious formal dinner in order to drag the General into such riff-raff behavior, and c) did one of the very things that could have gotten my boss in a big ol’ heap of trouble. Luckily, Shali thought it was a riot while the poor Staff Sergeant hoped she still had a job after she killed the people responsible. Laughs followed and I hauled ass out of the room. I could only hope my employment record stayed clean. It did. Thanks, guys!
4. Marcy Playground
These guys are Grade A Jerkwads. In my hotel heyday, I met a few D-list celebrities (you’ll read about more of them in this post). Marcy Playground played a gig in Gainesville, Florida back in the days when you could smoke indoors. Our paths collided when I was called in to work the evening shift and had to deal with these divas all night. Not only did they have the dumbassery to have band practice in the freakin’ lobby in the middle of the night, they demanded me and my staff hurry up and answer that phone – it’s making too much noise for us to practice! I finally reached my limit when they insisted I light their cigarettes for them and clean up their ashtrays. As politely as I could, I told them to suck it. The band soon cleared the lobby and headed to their rooms. When they checked out the next day, I hoped they would never choose to stay in our hotel again. Next to the old cranky Colonel who threw a cane at me and got trespassed from my lodging property, Marcy Playground was the biggest bunch of douchebags I’ve ever encountered.
5. Paula Barbieri
She is truly stunning in person, even when she’s running around a hotel lobby at breakfast time with her hair all in her face in the hopes of not being recognized. I accidentally bumped into her (she probably couldn’t see me because of all that hair in her face) and my cup of coffee went Wheeee!! None spilled on her, just the floor, but my first reaction to seeing her slight apologetic smile was OMG! She knows OJ Simpson! Hmm…she’s like a Kardashian in my mind, like what is she famous for other than having close ties to OJ? Poor woman. But she was in town for a deposition on some guy named Tank Black who got caught up in a huge money laundering/Ponzi scheme centered around funneling tons of cash to University of Florida football players.
Does anyone else think this lady needs a new set of friends?
6. Dick Vitale
This guy was one of our all-time favorite hotel guests! The voice and energy you hear in voice-overs and radio shows, it’s real. It’s so, so real! Dicky V would march into our hotel, make his way up to the front desk, and hang around while we screwed up his reservation and room keys just like we did for every other guest!
Dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, duuuuun, GO GATORS!!!!!!
Yeah, so anyway…
7. Redman and Method Man
Breaking the racial barrier, I outblacked a black girl. I had no clue that these two guys had stayed in our hotel the night before, but I was lucky enough to check them out the following morning. One of my favorite desk clerks named Aisha was always making jokes about how black she was and how white I was and how we had so much in common even though we’d never make it in each other’s worlds. So when I looked up one morning and saw these guys at my desk asking for a bill, I kept my cool and shook some hands. I found out they had played a gig in downtown Jacksonville and were on their way to the next city by way of tour bus. Aisha was about 8 feet away from me the whole time but apparently, she never looked up. After the guys left, I told her how I’d just checked our Redman and Method Man. Aisha said, “Girl, don’t you play me. How a white girl know Redman and Method Man?” Another desk clerk confirmed my story and Aisha literally jumped over the hotel desk and ran out the front door, squealing like a teenage girl in the front row of a … hahaha, a Redman and Method Man concert! Man, was she mad when she had to watch their tour bus pull out of our parking lot.
“Oh my gawd, girl! Why you didn’t tell me!!!!” Lesson 1 in How To Be A Successful Hotel Employee: Always pay attention to your surroundings. You could meet an armed robber OR a famous hip-hop duo. You never know!
8. Mystery UF Gator Football player
I don’t feel comfortable dropping this guy’s name because he’s done well for himself in the NFL. But before his NFL days, he was a well-known and much sought-after University of Florida football player. He charged into my hotel in the middle of the night, slammed down cash to pay for his room which he needed to be next to an exit, and refused to hand over his I.D. card. This dude was huge and loud and running from the law! Okay, okay…so he wasn’t running from the law. But I had no idea who he was! A few hours later (maybe 3, at the most), this mystery guest calmly walked up to my counter and proceeded to apologize if he scared me. At that point, he handed over his UF identification card and explained that he’d been drinking. There was no way he would have made it past the powers that be without some kind of repercussions from the coach. Once I saw his name, I immediately felt like an idiot for thinking he had just robbed a bank or something. Dude was just trying to hide from Coach Spurrier for the night. Yeah…I got your back.
P.S. He now plays for the Tennessee Titans. I would make it a contest to NAME THAT PLAYER! but I don’t have anything to give to you.
9. All those gymnasts I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. It’s getting late and I don’t think it’s necessary to repeat the information I’ve already written. Or post more of the same pictures. Moving on…
10. What a shame. I don’t have a tenth celebrity. At least not off the top of my head. However, I have spoken on the telephone with Norm Thagard, former NASA astronaut.
My office used to be in charge of a wonderful scholar program that celebrated high school students with unique math and science skills. The State of Florida’s Department of Education took that program away and pretty much squashed it. Before the death of it, though, I was the coordinator for meetings, travel arrangements, communications, grants, & funding and I talked with everyone on the board of directors. Norm Thagard was one of those experts tasked with choosing a scholar from each Florida county and compiling test questions to see who was the scholarliest scholar of them all!
For the record, he’s a nice guy. He even has a Jacksonville street named after him. Altogether now…oooh! aaaah! Wow!