In My Life
Last month, I wrote about the incredible youthful look of Rod Stewart and how he has somehow figured out how to capture the benefits of the Fountain of Youth. After the column was published by Jambands.com, I received a number of calls and e-mails from many of my business friends who began the communication by saying, “Hey Mike, remember when you met Rod Stewart?” and then everyone who called begins to laugh. Yes, I’m here to say the story is true. I met Rod, sort of. It is one of the highlights and lowlights of my business career.
To lend credence to the story and insight into the events of that momentous day, I have enlisted an eye witness, Felton McLaughlin to give his views of those events He was there that day, he is a devoted jambands fan with an incredible collection of Dead concert tapes and a very good friend of mine. I have written the first part of the story and Felton has written Part II since this story deserves more than one part. The events to be described happened as separate incidents on the same day and neither one of us knew about the others’ meeting with Rod until we compared notes later that evening.
I’m sure everyone can relate to the awkward feeling when as a young person you had to get dressed up to go to a family event. It’s tough to dress small children in suits or dresses. You never seem quite comfortable wearing a suit that your mother warns you not to make dirty.
In my business career, I have had the pleasure of selling database products to libraries throughout the world. It has been and continues to be a rewarding experience. Every year, the people we sell to come together at their association meeting and we call it a Trade Show. It’s a gala event where people like me show the customers the latest products along with some serious wining and dining. In an atmosphere that fosters competition, companies like the ones I’ve worked for strive to be unique and try to stand out above the competition. Any device that will help the customer better remember the company is examined and used. On the day in question, the company I worked for decided that at this Trade Show, all of their employees would dress the in the same outfits. Men and women were required to wear a red blazer with the company logo clearly visible on the pocket. Black slacks and white shirts for the men, black skirts and white blouses for the women were required. None of us were comfortable in these polyester jackets, but since this uniform idea emanated from the owners of the company, the alternative of not wearing the ghastly jackets would probably mean unemployment. So there we were, like a troop of trained chimps wearing jackets that could worn by ushers in movie theaters or barkers at a fun house carnival.
Nevertheless, our customers loved the jackets and to this day, more than 20 years later, those people who knew me back then will comment on where my red jacket might be today. Good taste and decorum prevent me from explaining where I’d like the jacket to be, but its use at the time clearly served a purpose.
On this particular day, we organized a luncheon for fifty of our top customers. We rented the penthouse meeting room suite at the posh Parker Meridian Hotel in Manhattan and hosted an exquisite meal and felt pretty good about ourselves as our guests filed out of the room fully fed and happy. We escorted each of our guests to the elevator and personally said good-bye to everyone. When the last guest departed, and the elevator doors closed, my boss, Steve turned to me and complimented our sales staff for a job well done. Just as I accepted his thanks the door to the elevator opened and three people exited. There was an incredibly beautiful and tall blonde woman, accompanied by two shorter men, one of which was unmistakably, Rod Stewart. As they passed us and made a u-turn towards the pool area, my boss and I confirmed that it was in fact, Rod Stewart.
Instead of letting this chance meeting pass by, Steve asks me if he can have the yellow pad I was holding because he was going to chase after Rod and get his autograph. Rather than see Steve get thrown out of the hotel for celebrity stalking, I decided to follow him. Our company colleagues, still in the meeting room were unaware of this chance encounter at the elevator and must have wondered where we had gone.
We saw the threesome climb the stairs at the far end of the pool as they were making their way to the roof top lounge area. We followed. By the time we got there, the threesomes had found chaise lounge chairs and were seemingly quite comfortable. The blonde woman was reading a People magazine, the other man was reading a newspaper and Rod was daydreaming.
Without missing a beat, Steve looks down at Rod and tells him what an honor it is to meet him, how he saw him last month at a show in Maryland, how great he was, how he’s been a fan of his for many years, has all his albums, blah, blah, blah…After 30 seconds of this, the man to Rod’s left shrieks in an unmistakable cockney accent for us to get the hell out of there and stop bothering Mr. Stewart. Steve pays no heed to this warning and continues his accolades on how great Rod is. At that point, Steve takes out the yellow pad with my pen and asks for an autograph, not for him of course but for his kids. Rod still hasn’t moved, the blonde continues to read her People magazine and the third guy is now getting up off his chair to personally escort us away. Rod, sensing that there may be an altercation because Steve was not going to leave without an autograph holds out his hand, Without a word being spoken, Steve gives him the pad and pen whereupon Rod signs it. Mission completed, we leave averting a further scene with the autograph firmly in our hands. Transaction completed without a word uttered by Rod. We exited the building thinking that all our business colleagues had already left. Apparently, that was not the case since there was yet another encounter Rod would have with more “men in red!”
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