Friday, January 13, 2006


Insomnia's a funny thing. Sometimes.

Having a bout of it, I did a little web surfing in the wee hours, and stopped by a site I've visited infrequently in the past couple years. Seeking news or an update, I happened upon a note posted to the site just yesterday:

Please Read
(Name Omitted) is no longer signing pictures, books or posters. Any mail received from persons unknown will not be answered. Any packages containing books will not be accepted by the post office. We feel it is time to retire and get some peace and quiet in our old age.

My initial reaction was, "wow. Guess they told us". I was immediately ashamed of that thought.

It isn't important who this person is; suffice it to say, they found fame late in life, for things done in their youth; things that, on the 50th anniversary of the events, a nation gratefully remembered them for. Indeed, a good deal of the nation only learned of these men and their exploits for the first time, thanks to tributes like 50th anniversary books and movies.

Tom Brokaw referred to them as being part of the Greatest Generation. 'Nuff said.

For a time, I'm sure the remembrance and adulation -- in essence, the fame -- was appreciated and enjoyed. But this particular individual, and his surviving 'band of brothers', are in their middle/late 80s now. And with fame, comes a price: being sought out by the public at the cost of peace and quiet in the twilight of their years.

It's not something I've ever had to deal with; I'm about as noteable as a fart on the wind. I'm not unhappy with that status, either. I like simple, austere, low-key. Life occasionally chooses another manner, but that's part of living that I'll deal with as need be.

They say fame is fleeting, and that you should enjoy it today, for tomorrow it's gone. With some, tomorrow can't come too soon. Thus for this man and his family.

Such should be respected in my view.

I work in an industry wherein I have occasion to see, perhaps even meet, persons of celebrity status, be they local, sports, and more widely known. I have a rule for such occasions: if I'm working, or if they are not present at a function wherein their celebrity status is an integral part, I leave them be. It's what I consider to be nothing more than common courtesy.

It's not a shared belief, as I've been witness to.

Recently, I came to work and learned that present on the floor were two Denver Broncos, one of which is well known throughout the NFL. I contented myself with a look on camera, and went about my business. Later, I noticed the more famous of the duo having some animated words with a floor supervisor just prior to his leaving. During a break, I spoke with the supervisor to inquire as to what was up with whozits.

Apparently, the supervisor approached whozits while whozits was engaged in what people do at our place of employment (in this case, playing Texas Hold 'Em poker), and asked for an autograph, which whozits quietly declined to provide. The supervisor pressed the issue, saying it was for his 10 year old; whozits again refused. When whozits left the room later, he stopped by to express mild annoyance with the supervisor.

In the supervisor's mind, he (the supervisor) pays whozits' salary, and whozits should have been more accommodating and less of a "jerk".

My response was simple: "when he was here, who was paying who's salary then? Don't you think you were a bit out of line?"

He didn't think so. Too bad.

There's a time and a place for such things. Granted, some celebrities are more gracious about being interrupted in public for autographs, etc., than others. And some aren't terribly gracious about it when they show up at a function where it's expected and understood. Probably the most famous person I've ever actually met was retired Green Bay QB Bart Starr; he was the keynote speaker at a luncheon I happened to be invited to attend. I was accorded the honor of meeting with and shaking his hand, and he was every bit as gracious and modest in person, as he was awesome as the QB for Green Bay Packers, winners of Super Bowls I and II. On another similar occasion, I was the 'go-to' guy to get autographs for those who were too shy to ask for them, whereas I wasn't. No problem, and everyone went home happy. On another occasion, I met Wayne Rogers (of MASH fame); he was about as gracious as a cornered porcupine.


At work, a few famous people have happened through while I was there doing what I do: most notably, Peter O'Toole and Bill Cosby. Since I didn't figure that they'd shown up to see me -- and they hadn't -- I figured then and since that it's enough to leave them to the reason they did show up there. Same when I encounter such persons in a restaurant, a grocery store, or in another public venue when all they're doing is going about their private life, like I am.

A life I'm allowed to go privately about when in public, while they're not. Because of who they are.

Yeah, I know: they chose the profession, and the fame that goes with it. So they have to take all that goes with the fame. Or so some believe.

Not me. Their privacy is as valuable to them, as mine is to me. That's all I need to know. Others will do as they will; so will I. I have yet to have any level of celebrity complain to someone else that I didn't bother or pester them.

I suppose that anything's possible.

At any rate, so much for my insomniac ramblings at 2:30am, January 13.

Peace. To the gentleman, his family and their website request, I can only say that I know what you did, and I have had an occasion in the past to send an email thanking you for it. That's good enough. If peace and quiet in old age is your wish, speaking strictly for me, it's yours to have.

Frankly, no one I know of in this life has earned or deserves it more.


Blogger phoenix said...

You are allowed, my dear friend, to have anything your heart desires. But know that this person thinks you are quite special and worthy of a hug :)


13 January, 2006 05:10  
Blogger FTS said...

I'm with you. I value my privacy, and have even distanced myself from friends who chose to disrepect it. I'm not shy by any means, but I also like being able to blend into the woodwork at a moment's notice. ;)

13 January, 2006 09:47  
Blogger eyeovthestorm said...

Your blog is very interesting.

13 January, 2006 19:55  
Blogger Monica said...

Must have been something in the night air...I've had quite a bit of insomnia lately. I don't know if it's having little ones around again, being sick for a few days, or worrying about things but I would love to have five uninterrupted hours of sleep.

16 January, 2006 13:02  

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