Starry eyes
A rambling by Tom Knapp,
October 1992

They are all out there somewhere. But, for us common folk of the world, it is always a bit startling and just a bit exhilarating to bump into someone who is Somebody.

Take our recent visit to New York City, where we had tickets to see Les Miserables at Broadway's Imperial Theatre. While returning to our hotel to prepare for the show, a familiar figure strode briskly from the hotel lounge and headed for the elevators.

I turned to my companion and asked, "Did a Rolling Stone just cut in front of us?" She grinned and nodded. A few moments later, we were riding in close quarters with famed guitarist Keith Richards, who stared fixedly at the elevator door.

We didn't talk -- celebrities probably tire quickly of "I love your stuff!" Instead, we exchanged smiles and settled for knowing we were inches from a Very Important Person.

Another, obviously star-blinded young man couldn't contain himself. After a few silent floors passed, he attempted a casual smile and asked, "So, what brings you to town?" Richards smiled politely and said he had a gig on Halloween. The young man practically drooled.

"There're still some tickets available," Richards added. Freebies, apparently, were out of the question. Richards' eyes returned to the door. The young man wilted. He disembarked at the ninth floor; we got off on 12. Richards, the only person left on the car, was going to 17, two floors shy of the top.

Brief encounters with fame and fortune can add a bit of zip to any occasion, making even mundane moments sparkle in the memory. I recall a chilly March afternoon on a New York City sidewalk, stumbling into a stogie-chomping Paul Schaffer outside an uptown diner. A routine flight from Edinburgh to London became something special whtn Sean Connery climbed aboard. And how can I forget bumping into Harrison Ford outside Lancaster County Courthouse, where he was filming a scene for Witness. The list goes on, but the experience never grows stale.

The brief encounter with Richards paled in comparison to the Broadway show, but it definitely added spice to the trip.

[ by Tom Knapp ]