Last week, astronaut Scott Altman stopped by the Pekin Daily Times office for a quick visit, and I was struck by how humble and gracious he is. When he first walked in, however, I had to get over the initial shock of seeing him in person for the first time. He really is quite tall, and, more than that, it was surreal to see someone whose picture has been all over our newspaper and other media outlets standing in the same place where I work every day.
Last week, astronaut Scott Altman stopped by the Pekin Daily Times office for a quick visit, and I was struck by how humble and gracious he is. Pekin should be proud to call him one of its own — and not just because he’s an astronaut.
When he first walked in, however, I had to get over the initial shock of seeing him in person for the first time. He really is quite tall, and, more than that, it was surreal to see someone whose picture has been all over our newspaper and other media outlets standing in the same place where I work every day.
It really is a bizarre feeling to have a close encounter with someone famous. You know exactly what that person looks like from photos or movies or TV, but it’s still startling when he or she appears right in front of you.
And I should know. I’ve run into my share of celebrities.
When I was about 10 years old, Donny Osmond was appearing in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in Chicago. I saw the show multiple times, but I didn’t get to meet Donny until we attended the same production of “Cats.” Talking to him at intermission was the best part of the show; I love musical theater, but I do not love “Cats.”
I’ve also met Weird Al Yankovic twice, but you don’t need to worry about the circumstances behind that. I may or may not have been a huge Weird Al fan in middle school, and I may or may not have waited in line to see him at Sam Goody and been to more than one of his concerts. Like I said, don’t worry about it.
The day after I went to a Monkees concert (by Monkees I mean Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz only, but they’re the best ones) with my mom and sister in Indiana, we checked out of our hotel next to Micky. And during the show, opening act Barry Williams — yes, Greg Brady himself — took a picture with my sister while singing a Johnny Bravo tune.
When my mom and I took a trip to New York, we went to the ESPN Zone at the same time as Chris Rock. I’ve also run into Tyra Banks and “American Idol” contestants Justin Guarini and Constantine Maroulis in Chicago.
My crowning achievement, however, was meeting Eric Idle. My family and I went to the very first production of the musical “Spamalot” in Chicago, and, since he wrote the show, he was also in the audience. I am a huge Monty Python fan, so I accosted him while he was on the way to his seat and made a scene like a teenager meeting the Jonas Brothers. He was very nice, and so was Hank Azaria, whom I met after the show.
I think my penchant for running into famous people was passed down to me by my mom, who has had lunch with actor Joe Mantegna and ridden the elevator at a Chicago hotel with Anthony Edwards, who was kind enough to answer to her greeting of “Dr. Green?”
Of course, I never seem to meet any celebrities when I’m attempting to do so. In fact, I went 0 for 3 while studying abroad in London.
The dreamy Orlando Bloom lived in the same neighborhood as my school, but, unlike half the girls in my program, I never met him. After I saw Harry Potter — I mean, Daniel Radcliffe — in “Equus” and elbowed my way past a bunch of lame kids by the stage door, I was informed that the star was not feeling well and had already left via a different exit.
Worst of all, I did not meet either one of the princes when I went to one of their favorite posh clubs for my birthday. This was especially devastating because William went to the same club exactly one week later, and I’m sure we would have fallen in love if we had met.
Oh, well. I guess I’ll never be the Queen of England, but I have met an astronaut.
Amanda Jacobs can be reached at (309) 346-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.