One summer when I was in college, I worked as a hostess at Smith Bros. Restaurant in Port Washington, Wisconsin. The restaurant no longer exists as such (it is a coffee shop now), but in it’s day, it was fairly well known, even slightly famous. Of course, when you’re talking about a restaurant in a small Midwestern town, famous is a relative term. What I really mean is that several people from Chicago and even beyond had heard of this restaurant.
The day in question had been pretty unremarkable. I led patrons to their tables, gave them menus, and rang up their bills when they were done. Little did I know, it was a day I would be blogging about years later. Heck, I don’t think the term blogging had been coined yet.
A couple entered the restaurant, and I took them to a table. In hindsight, I think the man looked vaguely familiar, but in that I-may-have-passed-him-on-the-street-before kind of way. A few minutes later, when I was back up at the hostess stand, the waitress whose section I had seated the couple in, rushed up to me, practically hyperventilating. “Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, thank you!”
I was confused. “Um, you’re welcome. For what?”
She laughed. She thought I was just playing dumb. “Ha, like you don’t know!”
“No, really.” It was her turn to have someone seated in her section. Surely, she couldn’t be that excited about one two-top being filled.
“That’s Tom Wopat you just seated in my section!”
The name was one I thought I’d heard before, but I was unable to think of where. “Should I know who that is?
“Luke Duke! The Dukes of Hazzard!” She fanned herself with a menu, obviously overcome with childhood memories of pining for Luke.
“Oh. Huh. Well, whaddya know.”
“How could you not know who he is??”
“I never really watched the show.”
So, it became the story of the time I met a celebrity and didn’t realize it. Many years later, I met David Sedaris, who is actually like a rock star to me, at a book signing. I confess, I conducted myself with all the grace and eloquence of a giddy schoolgirl. As he signed my copy of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, I said to him, “You are totally replacing Tom Wopat in the top spot on the list of most famous people I’ve met!”
David Sedaris looked up at me and said, “Who?”