Famous People Watching

While watching last week’s episode of The Nine on TiVo, I wowed Ellen with my obscure-celebrity-spotting ability. Here’s how it all went down:

Me: “Holy shit, Egan’s boss is Chip from Kate & Allie!”

Ellen: [no reaction]

Me: “Seriously, pause it.” [Using the handy Firefox IMDb search bar, I confirmed my suspicions in seconds.] “Look, it is Chip. And he was on Oz, too.” [We never watched that program.]

Ellen: [now going out of her way to not react] “You are the only person who noticed that.”

I take that as a compliment.

As mentioned in the last edition of Commuting Suicide, I don’t have many actual celebrity-spotting stories, which must be why Frederick Koehler gave me such a rush. The highlight came in 1982. On my third birthday, in the Peoria Airport, my dad saw Mickey Mantle and asked if he’d shake my hand. “I bet this boy wishes I was Mickey Mouse!” laughed The Mick, extending his paw.

Since then I’ve seen Dr. Ruth twice, once in the Museum of Natural History and once in Newark Airport. That same day in Newark Airport I also saw Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and the parents of former Duke phenom Jason Williams (the one who changed his name to Jay and crashed his motorcycle, not the one who shot and killed both his limo driver and his dog). To force the trifecta, I may be elevating The Williams to a level of celebrity not yet attained.

Former MTV VJ Simon Rex and Marshall from How I Met Your Mother were at my 21st birthday party. I’m not sure either actually knew there was a 21st birthday party going on, and neither were there for me, but if Jason Williams’ parents are on this list, these two certainly belong.

My wife and I ran into Dick Vitale in 2005 at the Hyatt in Sarasota, Florida. I put my arm around him and thanked him for supporting Duke. At first, it seemed like he was going to stab me in the esophagus. But he loosened up and told me to stop by DickieV.com, where Duke was atop his preseason rankings.

I once saw dozens of people taking pictures of someone in Times Square. This someone had an umbrella on the sunniest day of the year, deflecting flashbulbs and piquing my curiosity. I pointed and asked a fellow onlooker. “That’s Oprah’s friend Gayle,” she said. This was way before the Oprah-Gayle-Oprah’s fans-Steadman love trapezoid. I still maintain the attention was not warranted.

Rachel Dratch and I have twice crossed paths.

And I used to walk by Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times at least once a week.

If any better stories come up, or if the kid who played Andy Keaton returns to network television, you’ll be the first to know.

UPDATE: During a DC weekend, my friend Josh and I saw CBS anchor Bob Schieffer and his bodyguard. Big news.

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