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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Brushes With Greatness, Part Four

We'll call this, "The Atlanta Years."

Since The Weather Channel is just in nearby Marietta, I might as well start there. (I know that these folks represent the minor leagues of celebrity-dom, but they count. But only to ten, Mudhead.)

I saw Jim Cantore in the passenger seat of a convertible over by the Lindbergh MARTA station flirting with some attractive young ladies who were in a different car. (This, in itself, should be proof of the celebrity status of these folks. If he wasn't on The Weather Channel, Jim would have just been any of thousands of big-beaked baldies who consider themselves God's gift to women. Ladies, if you ever do receive this gift, exchange it.)

My wife and I also saw Mark Mancuso getting lunch at CiCi's Pizza in Marietta. Not quite the jet set yet.

In other late-breaking news, I once saw Cher walking along Peachtree St. downtown while some guy documented her day with a video camera. Either he worked for her or he was the pushiest of papparazzi. She was all duded up and appeared to be about nine feet tall, at least from my vantage point across the street.

Most of my Atlanta-based sightings came while I was employed at a bookstore located in the airport. Jane Fonda almost ran over me on Concourse B. I had to leap out of the way to avoid being trampled by Jane and her entourage. No "sorry" or "excuse me" or "beat it, skinny." (That was a long time ago.) I just leapt to safety while they continued on down the escalator.

Of course, I've also been in the same ballpark as she and Ted, back in the old days at Fulton County Statium. I was always seated a couple classes of attendee classes away, though and never got to mingle with the upper crust.

I did share a men's room with the sports announcer, Jack Buck, though. I think I whizzed at adjoining urinals with some other famous guy, too, but the name isn't coming to mind.

But back to the bookstore. I rang up both Spike Lee and Tommy Smothers. Both bought intelligent reading. Both made it obvious that they preferred to not be recognized, thanks. I complied, but wanted to say to Mr. Smothers, "Thanks for the pumas in the cravasses." They were not together.

Back in my former life, I used to spend some time at a well-known local bar called Manuel's Tavern. I saw Howard Hesseman there back in the mid-80s.

And that is where I met the toppersmost of the poppermost of the celebrities I've seen. I was in there one evening with a friend, indulging my love for Irish Whiskey. Someone came in and sat at the table behind me. My friend's eyes widened. It was Amy Carter. But that's not it yet.

A little while later, the combination of beer and whisky was playing havoc with my renal system, and I excused myself to make my way to the Men's Room. As I got up, I noticed a couple of guys in sunglasses standing by the doorway. As I tried to make sense of this image, tottering up the aisle in that direction, I came to realize that, coming along that same aisle, in my direction, was former President James Earl Carter. I was not exactly sober, but I tried to gather my wits as best I could. As I weaved in his direction, I could see the fear in Jimmy's eyes. However, being a politician, instinct overcame fear and his right hand extended in my direction. I grasped his hand and said, "It's good to see you, Mr. President." He smiled and relaxed perceptibly and said somehting noncommittal but pleasant and made his way past me. Rosalyn, it turned out, was right behind him, and she and a couple of Secret Service types also crossed my path as I resumed my trek to the men's room.

I'd like to say that we spent the rest of the evening jesting convivally, but no such thing happened. The Carters, who were seated behind me, apparently drank good Southern sweet tea. I don't remember who left first, but I think they did. It was an interesting experience. I hope to remind him of it one day.

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