A little over a decade, before Wendy and I got married, she took me out west on a trip that I had dreamed of for years. She took me to see the Seattle Seahawks play the Oakland Raiders in Seattle for my birthday. I had an even more grand idea. Since travel for me was rare, and I had several friends on the west coast, I told Wendy that I wanted to stretch out our trip – Seattle to Anaheim to Bakersfield to Lake Tahoe. We would get home the day before Christmas Eve, but Wendy was up for it.
We arrived in Seattle on a Thursday. It was mid-afternoon, but after a six hour flight we were exhausted and decided to draw the drapes and take a nap. With time zone issues, it ended up being a sixteen hour nap. This left us with only one day of sightseeing and then of course the game on Saturday. Saturday, one of the best gifts ever, watching the Seahawks come from behind and win a game in overtime that seemed to be over for the Hawks by halftime. We had dinner at the Space Needle and then packed for our next leg of the trip.
We got to the Sea-Tac airport early in the morning. There was a recognizable face sitting across from me in the passenger area and he was sitting with someone, possibly a manager or PR. I was positive it had to be Tommy Shaw of Styx. And then an announcement came over the loud speaker “will a T Shaw please report to the check in counter”. It was actually repeated three times on that third time, the guitarist/vocalist for one of my favorite bands got up from his seat to go to the counter. It was him. I pointed this out to Wendy and all she could do was say, “get your camera out, ask him for a picture”.
I have had opportunity to see many celebrities of which I have only met a handful. But one thing that I have always believed, that when any celebrity is out of their “arena”, they should be hands off. Chances are they are on their personal business, and that is theirs. And so it was going to be, that I would not impose on Tommy Shaw that morning. But as it turned out, he probably would have appreciated the photo op.
As we boarded the plane, Tommy Shaw was actually seated four rows in front of me. And really, it should have been the perfect seat for him. Not many would accept the middle seat on a four hour flight, be had two young attractive blondes sitting on either side. The person he was travelling with, was currently sitting in First Class. I hardly saw any conversation out of Shaws row. The two women had no idea who he was. When we landed in LAX Shaw was reunited with his travel meet whom we would later find out, was currently the drummer for Styx. The two were travelling to LA for a special Christmas concert.
So, I tell this story as often as I can, and now, I have put it in writing. I continually run into celebrities and my hands are empty of cameras, pens or paper. This is not to say that I do not ask for pictures or autographs. I just do it if the moment is appropriate. I do not get star struck easily. Celebrities are no different from me, except for everything, but in all seriousness, it is because of the job they do and that is all. I do get to enjoy their work sometimes. I do have some photos on my Facebook page, but these were people who have particular ties to me, either in the field of adoption or cancer. Yes, I will use the “C card” for an opportunity like that, but usually nothing else.
As I walk through Manhattan, at least once a month I will pass someone famous, and my attitude remains the same. Perhaps it was Don Trump Jr. that made sure of it with his size and scowling look. I did not dare to pull out a camera. He would have beat me to a pulp.
But I need to fix something that I handled incorrectly by my rules. Tommy, I realize this is 12 years too late, but if you would not mind, since clearly you were on business that morning in the Sea-Tac Airport, could I ask for a belated autograph and photo next time you are in the Philly area?