Friday, January 24, 2014

That Time I "Met" John Cleese

I am a huge Monty Python fan and, as for many fans, the cast are like unto gods to me.  Without meaning any disrespect to the others Mr. John Cleese is my favorite.  He is also something of a hero to me due to that time he hurt his knee while helping lemurs by going to where they live and looking at them.  My mom was so impressed with him that she donated to the wildlife fund associated with the Lemur Viewing.

In any event, this is the story of how I "met" John Cleese.

I was working at a movie theatre in Santa Barbara.  There was a movie playing about some Irish guys who were wrongfully accused of setting a bomb and put in prison.  The movie was called "In the Name of the Father".  Bono wrote a song for it.

So there I am behind the concession counter.  It was a slow night and the lobby was deserted except for me and a co-worker, a girl named Tali, who was also behind the counter.

A couple walked in and approached to get some goodies for the movie.  The man was quite tall.  They arrived at the counter and I was stepping forward to help them when my eyes reported an astounding sight:  The man was JOHN CLEESE!!!

At that point my brain exploded. BOOM!

The "conversation" that ensued is etched indelibly in my mind:

Me: "You're John Cleese!"  (Ooo Captain Obvious!)

Cleese: Stoic silence.

Me: "You're the funniest guy I know!" (Oh no! I don't "know" him!)

Cleese: Stoic silence.

Me, stammering now:  "N-n-not that I know you.. I mean.." (Trainwreck!)

Cleese: Stoic silence.

At this point I gave up trying to use words, and my sole mission was to see that Mr. Cleese and his date got their popcorn or whatever in a timely fashion.  Since I was totally unable to talk and barely able to stand, I just sort of staggered back and waved Tali forward to help them.

She stepped into the breach and Mr. Cleese and Tali, who had no idea who he was, proceeded to have a brief and pleasant little conversation as she served them some popcorn and drinks, while I leaned up against the popcorn machine trying not to hyperventilate and basking, just basking, in the Presence.

After that Cleese and the lady with him went into the theatre, and time started up again, passing along in its customary way as if nothing extraordinary had happened.

I'm pretty sure that after the movie they left through a side door.

The coolest thing was the very British and unprepossessing way that Mr. Cleese ignored my antics.

It's hard to explain, but it a was very polite way to acknowledge my worshipful attitude without pretense or conceit, by way of totally ignoring this kid having a near-breakdown just from being near him.  He sort of looked straight ahead with an air of "Yes, well, these things happen. It's not a bother."  I'm sure the lady with him was very impressed by his effect on me (she did smile a bit) but he managed to act like he was waiting for a train or something.  It was totally cool.

He was very gentlemanly and, as soon as I had retired from the field, he had, as I said, a very normal and pleasant conversation with Tali, undisturbed by me gaping and gasping like a fish out of water just a few feet away.  A class act.

So that's my story of how I "met" John Cleese.  I only hope I get to meet him again someday and ask him if he remembers that incident.  How cool it would be to be part of a memory in the mind of John Cleese!

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