I once stalked a celebrity. I didn't mean to and didn't realize how it must have seemed to him at the time. Let me start at the beginning...
A number of years ago, my friend Tim (in Atlanta) & I made plans to surprise our friend Weezie for her birthday. "Annie" was playing at the Fox Theater in Atlanta and the plan was for me to get Weezie down to see Tim in Atlanta (have I written Atlanta enough?? Atlanta, Atlanta, Atlanta), then we would surprise her with tickets to the play. She knew we had a big surprise for her, but neither of us were going to tell her until we arrived at The Fox on Sat evening.
So, bright & early Sat morning, with many hours to kill before our big plans, Weez decided she wanted to go to the mall. Now, being stuck inside a mall in Atlanta on a saturday is probably the last place on earth I'd choose to be, but it was her birthday weekend/celebration, so I decided to suck it up and go with her. After a couple of hours of mindnumbingly looking at everything I cared nothing about in multiple dept stores, I spotted a bookstore and suggested we go there next. Weez knows that being in a mall is pretty close to hell on earth for me, so she graciously agreed. So in we go.
At that point in time John Schuck was traveling with the play in the role of Daddy Warbucks. For those of you who may not know, John Schuck was the guy who played Rock Hudson's sidekick, Sgt Enwright, on the TV series McMillan & Wife.
So in we go to Waldenbooks....at last, a little heaven in the midst of hell. I headed down the first aisle and who's standing at the end but Mr. John Schuck himself??!! He was taller than I expected he would be and his head was shaved for the part, but it was him!
My first instinct was to run to Weezie & tell her...but if I did that, it might give away the birthday surprise. So I chose to follow him around the store, one aisle from him, and try to screw up my courage enough to ask for an autograph and tell him that my friends and I would be seeing the show later that night. I tried very hard to not be obvious about following him around. I suspect that in trying not to be obvious, I became all the more obvious. I stayed one aisle either behind or in front of him, watching him and trying to calm my nerves enough to approach him. I would watch, and everytime he looked up, I'd pretend to be looking at a book. This went on for at least 30 minutes, if not more. I'm a fairly shy person and not versed in approaching total strangers for any reason, much less for an autograph from an genuine TV ACTOR!! So, after a few minutes, he would look up and I'd quickly look down, then when I looked back up, he'd quickly look down. As the minutes ticked by, I began to realize that he had an almost fearful look on his face, that his eyes were darting around as if he was looking for the quickest exit. I mean, when you're walking around a bookstore and everytime you look up the same woman is staring at you over the aisle...well I can see how that might make someone a little nervous. The poor man kept switching aisles, trying to lose me, but I stayed on his tail like a bad memory. Finally, while standing directly across from him and making an effort to look inconspicuous, I actually grabbed a book and randomly opened it and a name on the page jumped out at me, I knew someone by that name. I flipped the book over and looked at the cover and as fate would have it, it was written about one of the old mill villages in the little town I grew up in. In the time it took for me to take this all in, Mr Schuck had seized his opportunity and made a break for the door. I glanced back up and he was hoofing it through the mall. I've never seen a person move that fast through that kind of crowd. He was throwing nervous glances back towards the bookstore, no doubt looking for that crazy eyed woman stalking him through Waldenbooks. I thought it was best just to let him leave and be thankful he got away. Wonder if he still tells the story of his narrow escape from the Atlanta Waldenbooks stalker? By this point, I was laughing so hard I couldn't have chased him down anyway. Weez came up to me and wanted to know what was so funny, but I couldn't tell her until after we saw the play that night. An excellent play it was too. Mr. Schuck played his part to perfection and as far as I know, never spotted me in the audience.
By the way, I bought the book and read a hilarious collection of stories by a man who grew up in the same small town I did. And he mentions many people in this book that I also know. How funny is that?!