Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chances are....

I grew up in rural Oklahoma. Small town life. Small town values. Small town way of seeing things. My life barely stretched beyond arms length and what I knew of the world I got from tv, school, newspapers, etc. Weirdly though I really never believed the things I would see outside my little world. I kind of treated everything like it was a sit-com. So I grew to have a very narrow view of the world. Looking back, this made me exceedingly naive and near-sighted. Just call me a simple country boy, minus the hat and boots and horses and cows.

So, here's another story. There may be some significant details missing or incorrect but the event is real and I will do my best to tell it.


My great-aunt L has been in the entertainment industry for years. She worked at famous theaters and shows as a seamstress and a manager and a person who made things happen for the famous performers in the shows. She got to be part of the show biz family and knew many interesting people. She used to go with other women in my family to Las Vegas once a year and she would figure out who was going to be performing and would contact managers to get free tickets and great seats to shows. The shows would usually end up with a meet and greet session backstage and was always good fun. When I lived in San Diego I was able to meet her when she went on her LV trips. She set me and family and friends up with excellent opportunities to mingle with celebrities. One such celebrity was Johnny Mathis, crooner extraordinaire.

Really, the only thing I knew about JM was that he was a singer and that he sang the theme song for the Family Ties tv show. But I would never turn down a show from L. My mother and grandmother were also in attendance. There may have been others but I don't remember. JM was playing in the main theater at Caesar's Palace which is always a treat. We got fantastic front and center seats and the show was very enjoyable.

I think I was 22 at the time, maybe 23. I hadn't expanded my world much since graduating college so I was still that same simple country boy inside. I was doing a lot of sports so I was built pretty well and I had begun growing my hair longer in a classic surfer dude style. My wife says that I was "very pretty" back then. She still says that now but I know she lies. LOL

After the show we were ushered backstage to meet JM. I remember we waited for a while as he managed other business. Eventually we met him in a backstage area. My great-aunt L did introductions with JM and his manager. She started with the ladies first and eventually my greeting was the final in line. I spoke politely and said hello and offered my hand which JM took with ease. I had discovered from previous experiences that performers tend to be very hands-on and huggy and touchy and that was just fine by me. JM was certainly no danger or threat and I had no reason not to trust the instincts of L for taking us to meet celebs. So I accepted my role and JM's normal mannerisms and let the moment flow like it was all normal.

Johnny took my hand with a pleasant grip. Not firm like a business handshake and I knew not to be strong and forward with such things. I returned his dainty hold and he looked straight into my eyes and said all the normal wonderful it is to meet you, you look very handsome, I'm lucky to have met you...just normal celeb stuff. We maintained hand contact during the entire conversation eventually with his free hand gripping my hand allready being held. When the greeting was over I moved beside JM and stood facing the women.

JM still had a hold of my hand in a fully engulfed, fingers around my fingers grip. I thought nothing of it as celebs are often touchy, feely so I gladly stood holding his hand. Small talk ensued with my family and others and I stood mostly listening and trying not to be in the way since we were invading someone else's space. JM moved slightly and stood shoulder to shoulder with me. Well, not exactly since I am several inches taller than him but that is the general picture. After a few minutes JM let my hand go and put his arm around my waist. Again, I don't think anything of this maneuver as it is often the beginning of the "push" that sends you away back to your non-celebrity life. Except there was still significant small talk happening that eventually hit upon a topic of my interest.

JM had mentioned that he was invited and scheduled to play golf at a celebrity charity event the next afternoon at a famous local landmark golf course on the LV strip. I immediately chimed in that I was also an avid golfer and that playing in a celebrity charity tournament must be great fun. He removed his arm from around my waist and held my hand once again. I remember catching a glimpse of my family and they were listening happily and seemed very much in tune with the conversation and were smiling. It seemed normal considering the situation. JM then said that his partner was supposed to be here with him and was to be his partner at the golf outing the next day. However his partner had been delayed in LA and had not been able to make the trip and was unsure if he could catch a flight the next day. My eyes lit up as I seen the opportunity and I pounced. I brought my clubs with me, I lied, and would be more than happy to fill in for your partner if you wanted me. I figured if he said yes that I would just go buy a new set of clubs for the event the next morning. It would be worth it. JM said that it would be lovely to spend the day with me and we exchanged information with him and his handlers. I was beaming and pouring on the charm as best I could. I took both his hands in mine and thanked him sincerely for allowing us to meet and for the possible opportunity to be his partner. He pulled me close and thanked me and we parted and our group started on our way out of the theater.

We got out of the backstage area and worked our way to the exit when I noticed my mom et al were snickering at me. I asked why they were laughing at me but I was sure it was because I had lied about having my golf clubs with me. My mom looked at me and said, you do know that JM is gay don't you. Really. REALLY. My naive bumpkin brain didn't see that at all and apparently I had done a pretty good job at making myself just as gay as him. It never ever crossed my mind that his partner wasn't his GOLF partner, but his cuddle naked in the spoon position watching chick flicks partner. Oh no! Being a small town boy I wasn't afraid of gay folks but I certainly didn't have much knowledge about it. Now the celebrity closeness took on a whole new definition. And I had just batted my eyes and committed to being his partner for the day while his other partner was unavailable. Crap. Crap. crap.

I really really really wanted to play golf in the celebrity tournament. My family continued to laugh at me, not with me. Then I made the decision. If JM needs a partner of some kind, and if being that partner will get me in the golf tournament, then I was willing to do whatever was asked of me. OMG! I was totally gay whoring myself out to a short, middle aged, well tanned singing icon. wow. We really learn about ourselves in such times.

Sadly the story doesn't continue any further. JM called the next day and left a message at my hotel that his partner had been able to get a flight and that his day was back to normal. He thanked me for the offer and that was it. Now, not 12 hours earlier I was feeling bold and empowered...then embarassed and compromised...then uplifted and determined...and now I sort of felt like a prom date that got stood up on prom night when we were supposed to dance the night away and have fun with our friends and then go in my date's family station wagon and lose my virginity like every prom date dreams. Only one glass slipper for me. Dang.

An interesting side note. I learned that JM made like $100,000 for each show he performed. He was a very wealthy man. Later in the evening after seeing the show at Caesar's Palace I seen JM playing a nickel single line slot machine. Playing a nickel at a time. And just giggling to himself and having a jolly gay time. Indeed.

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