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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Brush With Fame: Summer, 93

Hell's Kitchen hosts a variety of things each year, one being the 9th Avenue Food Festival. And back in the summer of 93 I stopped in at my local hangout, Le Madeleine, to ask my friend who was bartending that afternoon if he wanted anything from the stalls. Further up the bar was sitting a man who looked very familiar. I happened to be both sunblind and hungover that day, and as he looked at me expressionlessly, I looked back at him. He had beautiful eyes. Sky blue, just like outdoors that day.

This went on as I waited to speak with my friend. He was so familiar. I knew that face. Was he someone I'd picked up at a bar and forgotten years ago? I looked at him; he looked at me. Finally I thought I'd say something, and so I went safe with, "Have you been to the Food Festival yet?" and he spoke, a soft English accent, "No, I wish I could." I went on to recommend a pastry stand if he got the chance and then we chatted briefly about bakery goods. Still couldn't place him, but there didn't seem any problem. A moment later, a couple of young women came up to him from a table and he was occupied.

My friend appeared and made a beeline to me at the end of the bar. "Do you see who's sitting at the bar?" he leaned over and stage whispered, eyebrows lifted and eyes bugging out. "Who?" I said, and looked back down the way. "Pete Townshend! He's here with his daughters...Don't you recognize him?" My mouth dropped open. Of course it was. His hair was short and gray (and way receded) and he was older, but it was freakin Pete Townshend, Guitar God. I'd had a chance to chat with Pete Townshend and it was about pastries.


The Writer said...

But that's so perfect! If you, my friend, are going to talk to anyone famous about anything, it's likely going to be about something that connects us all, famous and "regular folks" alike. You have a gift for chatting up just about anyone, and food is the right place to start. This story makes total sense!

Austan said...

Thanks,OPOM :) it's just what happens when you live there- you know, you do! What I missed was when later that week he hung out with all my friends at the West Bank and they all went downstairs and played with him- and I missed it!!! Damn work!