Rubbing elbows with celebrities


Very often at parties, when it's growing late and people are becoming cranky and bored, I'll be asked to tell the story about me and Mick Jagger.

"Oh, no one wants to hear that old . . . " I'll start to say, but then three people with glazed eyes and onion dip crusted on their chins will shout: "Oh, c'mon! Tell us!"

Since there's nothing worse than being pestered by a bunch of drunks, I usually end up telling the story, just to have some peace and quiet.

The thing is, I've met lots of famous people, but all anyone wants to talk about is Mick Jagger, Mick Jagger, Mick Jagger.

Look, four months ago I spent the morning with Richard Sanders. Right, THE Richard Sanders. The guy who played nerdy newsman Les Nesman on the old sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati."

It turned out that a local radio station had hired Sanders to lob turkeys out of a helicopter as part of a Thanksgiving promotion.

Me, I thought the whole idea was crazy. It seemed to me that if a listener was nailed by a frozen turkey thrown from 800 feet up, the only thing he or she would need was a casket.

I'll tell you this: You'd never eat turkey again. Because even if you lived through the experience, you'd be so scarred emotionally that the idea of cozying up to a drumstick would be out of the question.

But it turned out Sanders was to lob papier-mache turkeys from the helicopter, and those turkeys could be redeemed for real turkeys later.

Anyway, I happened to be at the radio station earlier that morning when this man walked up and stuck his hand out and said: "Hi, I'm Richard Sanders."

Now, it was 6:30 in the morning. I hadn't even had a cup of coffee yet. So I didn't put two and two together. I'm staring at this guy and thinking: "Boy, if this guy isn't a dead ringer for Les Nesman . . ."

L As if reading my mind, the guy said: "Yeah, I'm Les Nesman."

Richard Sanders turned out to be a great guy. The two of us really hit it off well; at one point he even turned to me and said: "Get me a coffee, willya? Cream, no sugar."

But no one ever lurches up to me at a party and says: "Hey-y-y! Did I hear you met RICHARD SANDERS?!"

(Yes, yes, the Mick Jagger story is coming. Please. Have some patience.)

Let's see . . . what other famous people have I been around? Met Jesse Jackson at a fund-raiser for the homeless. That was wild.

Here I am, smearing mustard on a hot dog when all of a sudden Jesse Jackson comes wading through the crowd, pumping flesh.

So I shook his hand and quickly realized, to my horror, that I had just smeared mustard all over Jesse Jackson's hand!

Which you just can't do. This is a man of the cloth, after all. I don't know what the punishment is for something like that, but it's probably an automatic ticket to hell.

But the Rev. Jackson was very nice about it and pretended not to notice, which was a relief, even though I was fully prepared to blame the whole thing on the homeless guy standing next to me.

Anyway, I said we'd get around to the story of Mick Jagger and here it is:

In a previous life, I was a sportswriter who covered the New York Cosmos, a pro soccer team that attracted a glitsy following of British rock stars.

One day, at a luncheon for the team, Mick Jagger and fellow rocker Rod Stewart were seated at the head table.

I, on the other hand, was at my usual table all the way in the back near the kitchen, with nine other swinish writers wearing bad sports coats.

Anyway, midway through the luncheon, I went out into the hallway to use the phone to call one of my pain-in-the-neck editors.

There I was treated to a wondrous sight: Stumbling directly toward me was the lead singer of the Rolling Stones himself. His eyes were red; it was obvious he'd had a couple of cocktails. (Yeah, I know, I know . . . Mick Jagger a little high ? Go figure.)

Suddenly he spotted me and a big smile creased his features. Then he said -- I'll never forget this because it was so moving -- "Where's a bloke take a pee 'round here?"

Well. Naturally I did what anyone would do in the presence of the world's most famous rock 'n' roller.

I said: "Down the hall and to your left."

And with that, Mick Jagger thanked me and staggered away. Oh, it was a Kodak Moment, all right.

Memories like that last a lifetime.

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