Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Captain Fantastic
Driving in to work this morning, I heard on the radio that Hugh Grant paid $450,000 for himself and 10 people to have dinner with Elton John. I smiled when I heard that because I almost had a similar situation for free. Actually, this is just a celebrity siting story, but it's a good excuse to tell it.

Several years ago, when I worked for another company, we were attending a trade show in Atlanta. Earlier in the day, I was driving through the city with a co-worker, Claudia, and mentioned that I heard on Oprah or something that Elton John kept an apartment in Atlanta, which she thought was interesting versus New York, San Francisco, etc.

Later that night, Claudia and I were with a group of other co-workers and the sales reps from our advertising agency, dining at "Prime" at the Lenox Square Mall. I was at the head of the table and Claudia was at the other end, directly across from me. Next to us was another large group of diners, obviously celebrating a birthday. Another co-worker had even made a comment when we walked in that they looked like "beautiful people."

Later, as the group of "beautiful people" was getting ready to leave, our waiter came over to me, bent his head down and whispered, "If you look over at the group that's leaving, you'll see Mr. Elton John." My head sprang up, I looked over, then looked back at Claudia. The waiter had just told her the same thing. Sure enough, there was Elton John putting on his coat and leaving the restaurant. We had been sitting next to Elton John for two hours and never even realized it! A very fun, cool experience.

Other celebrity sitings I experienced while traveling on business, some more interesting than others:
  • Jane Fonda, also in Atlanta, getting off an escalator in the CNN Center. Obviously, on her way to see Ted.
  • Dan Reeves in Orlando, coming out of the convention center. It was a cardiology convention and this was just after his heart attack/Super Bowl win.
  • LPGA golfer Laura Davies, in a hotel lobby in Minneapolis. It was my first real celebrity siting and I couldn't wait to call my dad and tell him.

And then of course, the celeb-siting of them all - when I was 15 and my sister Vanessa was 13 we were traveling to California with our parents. On the way out there, we had to change planes in Pittsburgh. WWF wrestler Hercules Hernandez walked by us and Vanessa recognized him. (I didn't.) Since we had a layover, we followed him. When he arrived at his gate, there was a whole group of other wrestlers just sitting around waiting for their plane - Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, the Honkytonk Man and others (yes, I'm dating myself). We ran to the nearest news stand and bought a wrestling magazine and were able to get a bunch of autographs.

Ironically, while we were in Los Angeles, we didn't see any celebrities.