Monday, September 20, 2010
Been There, Done That -- Joe Montana
Once when I was traveling from my home state of Indiana back to my adopted state of Utah, I found myself sitting in the airport in Cincinnati, Ohio, waiting on my connecting flight and with nothing much to do. So, writer that I am, I started thinking about unfinished book projects I had waiting for me once I got home.
One of these projects was a book proposal for a book about how to meet celebrities. All of my experiences had proven to me that meeting famous people could be accomplished easily enough, if you knew a few simple strategies about what to do. I thought I would be able to sell a publisher on the idea, and so I was outlining a few of the things I had learned about what to do.
If I only had a couple great quotes from celebrities to accompany the article, I thought.
Right then, I noticed a tall, blond man walking toward me. He was surrounded by a group of women, all holding out magazines and pens. This was a scene I’d been part of many times before. This guy was someone famous, and those women were asking for his autograph.
But who was he? I had no clue.
Then he sat down beside me!
This was too weird. I wanted a celebrity, and now here one was, sitting right beside me and I didn’t have an idea in heaven who he might be. How could I interview him without knowing his name?
I eavesdropped into the women’s conversation, but that didn’t give me an idea either. I knew they were holding out magazines and I could see the guy’s photo on the front cover, but I still had no clue. I did catch a glimpse of the cover—Sports Illustrated. I’d never read an issue of that magazine, so that explained why I didn’t know who he was, but here was my celebrity—someone who might be able to give me a quote for my book, if I only knew a name!
This was back in the day when you could leave your suitcase alone for a few minutes in an airport terminal, so, while the man was still engaged in conversation, I slipped over to the nearby newsstand. I scanned the magazine covers until I found the Sports Illustrated. Joe Montana. The guy’s name was Joe Montana. I thought I’d actually heard of him. He was on his way to Kansas City, and so was I to meet my connecting flight.
I walked back to where I had left my carry-on and took my seat. Mr. Montana was now alone, all the women having gotten their autographs. He looked up and said hello to me as I resumed my seat.
“Hi,” I said, then I sat there a few minutes trying to think of exactly what I wanted to say.
Joe was flipping through a magazine of his own, trying to be inconspicuous, I suppose.
Finally, I worked up my nerve and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Montana?”
He turned toward me with a genuine smile.
“I’m a freelance writer,” I continued, “and I’m working on a book proposal on a book about how people should act when they meet a celebrity. Do you mind if I ask you a question to be quoted in my book?”
“I’d be happy to,” he said.
“When you are out in public, how do you feel about fans coming up to you to ask for autographs?”
He gave a big sigh then said, “When I’m in situations like this, I don’t mind at all. . .as long as they don’t make me miss my plane.” He chuckled then continued, “But when I’m out with my family, like for dinner or something, I wish they would let me have my space, you know what I mean?”
I knew exactly what he meant. I’d spent enough time on the road following the Osmonds to know when fans were appreciated and when they were tolerated.
“I understand exactly,” I said. “Thanks.”
“No problem. Good luck with you book,” he said as he turned back to his magazine.
I wrote his quote on the back of my ticket receipt and continued thinking about the book I was proposing.
“Celebrities can really be nice, if you approach them at the right time and in the right way. This chapter will teach you how.”
Yep, that would be a good start to the chapter on what to do once you find your favorite celebrity. Soon, we were called to board the place, on our way to Kansas City, where I had no idea I’d run into a second celebrity.
Find out that story on Wednesday’s blog.