I’ve often wondered if Lincoln were alive today, what TV shows would he watch? After all, he’d probably prefer the relative safety of watching the tube at home—to attending the theater.
The Cartoon Channel and Nick, Jr. probably wouldn’t be his bag since Abe would be 209 years old by now. That pretty much leaves re-runs of Daniel Boone, Matlock and Larry King.
Or late-night infomercials for those walk-in bathtubs.
Perhaps Honest Abe would occasionally tune in ESPN—and if he did he might have been watching the same show I did last week. It was a film about the history of Boston Celtics basketball.
Incidentally, you might think such history programs would be found on the History Channel. In fact the History Channel these days has about as much to do with history anymore, as MTV has to do with music.
However, if you’re interested in the pawn business, cool cars or UFO’s, the History Channel is the ticket.)
In the midst of the Boston Celtics’ film, my wife looked up casually and said, “I saw that guy at Costco yesterday.”
“What guy?” I asked.
“THAT guy,” she said. “The one wearing the short pants and shooting the basketball.”
She was referring to all-time great, Larry Bird. I was incredulous.
“You saw Larry Bird in person?” I sputtered. “Why didn’t you get a selfie or an autograph?”
Still without looking up she said, “Who says I didn’t?”
“So you DID?”
“No,” she said. “Maybe YOU would be tacky enough to do that, but I didn’t want to bother him.”
I pressed. “What was he doing there? Signing a book?”
My wife just shrugged. “Looked to me like he was buying a pot roast.”
Then she went back to reading.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I begrudge my wife having a brush with Larry Bird—it’s just that she is not nearly as thrilled about it as I’d be. As a sports fan, I would be near rapture if I ran into the guy. But for my wife, such occurrences fail to impress—much less make her heartbeat quicken. Ever.
Yet, for some reason, she just runs into famous people. It happens to her all the time—but never when I’m around. She insists that kismet is fully engaged in my case—I would just embarrass myself.
So while she routinely spots rock stars, movie actors and politicians—with a nonchalance that is bewildering—the best I’ve managed in the last year is noticing Dennis Bounds at an Olive Garden. That guy can really put away the bread.
A few years ago, my wife casually mentioned an encounter she’d had on a yacht when she was a young college student in L.A. A classmate with well-heeled parents had invited her on a cruise to the Catalina Islands. Along the way, they encountered another yacht they knew—came alongside—and boarded.
“I sat and talked for a couple of hours with an old guy who used to be in movies with his brothers,” my wife casually mentioned.
“Do you remember his name?” I asked.
She thought about it a moment and then said, “I forget. Something like Grumpo or Crabbo. ”
If my chair hadn’t been placed against a wall, I’d have flipped over backwards in it. “Groucho! You were talking with Groucho?”
She nodded. “That was the guy! Groucho. He was funny. Had eyebrows like yours.”
She might as well have said she’d met Andre the Giant and thought, “he was large.”
My wife couldn’t comprehend why not only meeting—but hanging out with Groucho—was such a big deal. All I know is that if it had happened to me, I’d be telling that story at least five times a day—to total strangers.
One time I scored a radio interview with one of my other old-time entertainer heroes, Steve Allen. He was, just incidentally, a good friend of the late Groucho—and I couldn’t wait to ask Allen a million questions about that.
I nervously recorded a long phone interview with him—me in a studio and him miles away in Los Angeles. It happened on a Friday afternoon—I planned to play it back on my radio show the following Monday morning. I called my wife excitedly. “This time I’M the one brushing with the famous!” I exalted. “Be listening on Monday!”
But if anyone WAS listening on Monday, they heard a different radio show—and no interview with Steve Allen. I’d been fired from the radio station soon after recording my interview that Friday. Someone at the station promptly discarded the tape of my interview—and the only proof of my tiny triumph was gone.
For what it’s worth, my wife consoled me later. “Don’t feel bad,” she said. “I’m sure it was fun talking to him about Grumpo even though you’re the only that heard it.”
She’s so hard to impress.
But something cool happened today that might change things—because I’m pretty sure I saw former Husky and pro football great Lincoln Kennedy hanging out in the produce section at Costco.
Now I just have to decide whether to tell my wife I saw Lincoln—or Kennedy.