Monday, March 17, 2008

Encounters with Famous Folks

I'll indulge in this from time to time. Today's entry is sparked by reminiscences of plane flights. On one such, when my kids were small, we sat in the back of a Chicago-Austin flight. The woman across the aisle chatted me up because she was enamored of half-Asian children (like mine). Turns out she was Mari Michener, spouse of the famous writer James Michener. "You must come over for tea," she said. "Give me your phone number."

Weeks went by.

Dena, the wife of a colleague of mine, worked as secretary to James Michener. "Mari always says she's going to invite people to tea," Dena said, "and then she never calls them."

Michener willed his art and documents to the University of Texas. In the UT museum's basement there must be a card with my old phone number on it.

In those days I travelled frequently to Washington D.C. Congressman John Jenrette and his wife Rita had just become notorious for having, um, done it on the steps of the US Capitol. (A DC tour agency, and later a comedy troupe, were named "The Capitol Steps" in honor of the couple. Or the coupling.) Four or five times on Southwest flights out of DC I found myself just a few aisles away from the comely Rita. Never got any work done on those flights. Rita and my fertile imagination kept me thoroughly distracted.

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