Thursday, January 14, 2016

Say, Aren't You....?

I've had a lot of celebrity encounters during my time in Los Angeles, but this one last Saturday might have been the most surreal as it didn't really make any sense.

From time to time, I will visit a German cold cut store in Beverly Hills.  Back when I was a kid, my dad used to go to one in the Bronx every Saturday to load up for our week's sandwiches.   Well, the store in LA is very reminiscent of that experience.  German speaking folks work behind the counter.  A lot of the meats in the showcase are just as they were when I was 10.   Indeed, the German smoked salami is still my favorite go-to.

So I was in the mood for this and stopped into the store.  As it were, I was the only patron at the time.   The two gals behind the counter recognize me by face only and say "hi."  I order my half-pound of salami gold.

I am browsing the showcase as another customer enters.   Both the women immediately greet him.

"Hi, Johnny."

Okay, this strikes me as odd.   Who really calls somebody "Johnny?"  The last person I remember is Carson.   So I look up.

And find myself face-to-face with Johnny Mathis.
He certainly no longer looks like the record album cover my mom had in her youth.  And he was wearing a Detroit Tigers hat.  But the image was so instantly recognizable that I had a gut, knee-jerk reaction.   I said hi.

"Hello, there."

So, as I usually do with most celebs that I bump into, I went about my business nonchalantly.   And listened to him reel off an order of every possible German sausage you can think of.  Indeed, Johnny Mathis likes his bratwurst.

He wandered over to the store refrigerator and was suddenly euphoric.

"Oh, you have the passion fruit drink I love."

He pulled out three cartons from the refrigerator and turned to me.

"I just love this.  It's so tasty."

I wanted to respond that the whole exchange was making me misty.   Or what are the chances of running into Johnny Mathis in a German pork store.   I could finish the joke with..."well, chances are..."

Nah.   Plus my cell phone was in the car so there would be no selfie request.  

As he stood completing his purchase, I noted he was a good inch shorter than me.   And, as he walked out of the storm, he had a very slow gait.   I could probably beat him in a foot race even with my healing fractured knee cap.   

I got into my car and he hadn't gotten far up the block so I did a very unLen-like thing.   I snapped his photo as he walked away from me.  Look closely.  He's the guy with the plastic bag.
In a town where bizarre experiences can pile up like a traffic jam on the 405, this might have been the most bizarre.   

Who knew that Johnny Mathis liked the same sausages that my own dad used to crave?  And in a German cold cuts store on a Saturday, of all days??

Dinner last night:  Hamburger and salad.

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