Column: Famous People I Have Almost Met and Loved

Susan Parker
Tuesday September 05, 2006

1966: Jackie-O 

My daddy receives a $14 check from Jackie (then) Kennedy for the purchase of two white mice for Jon Jon. He cashes it. 


1967: Lunch with Billie Jean King 

Picked out of a crowd of teenagers at the Philadelphia Spectrum, a reporter asks me to have lunch with Billie Jean King. I’ve been volleying back an forth with Pancho Gonzales during a high school clinic sponsored by the USTA. I’m not a very good tennis player, but I am, as always, enthusiastic. 

Most likely, the reporter has noticed my V-neck white tennis sweater with the corresponding blue and red stripes, the too-short pleated white tennis skirt with matching ruffled panties underneath, and the white socks and squeaky clean sneakers. I stand out in a crowd; I glow. 


March 27, 1968: The Supremes at the Latin Casino, Cherry Hill New Jersey 

For my 16th birthday my parents take me to see Diana Ross and the Supremes. We sit at a small, round, stage-front table and I drink several Shirley Temples while my parents knock back martinis and chain smoke unfiltered cigarettes. The Supremes change their outfits after every song, but the hair on their heads moves not a single millimeter. 


Fall 1968: Iron Butterfly 

I am at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia watching Iron Butterfly perform “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” I smell marijuana for the first time. 


Spring 1969: Paul & Artie 

I see Simon and Garfunkel at the Philadelphia Civic Center while wearing a purple polyester miniskirt with matching purple top. I resemble a human eggplant. When the concert concludes, I storm the stage and chase Paul and Artie down a long, narrow basement hallway. Paul gets away, but I pin Artie against a wall and demand his autograph. Later, I will lose the precious signature in the orange shag carpet of my bedroom. 


Sunday, July 20, 1969 10:17 p.m. EST: Apollo II moon landing 

On the night Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon, I attend a Smokey Robinson and the Miracles concert at the Seaview Hotel and Golf Resort in Absecon, New Jersey. Smokey is fab-u-lo-so. 


Fall 1969-Fall 1970: Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Canned Heat, Ten Years After, The Moody Blues, and Janis and Dylan 

I see them all, but remember little. 


Winter Break 1971 Part I: Maced for Neil Young 

I hitchhike from Fort Collins to Boulder, Colorado, to attend a Neil Young concert that I don’t have a ticket for. I sneak into the arena and get maced on the way out. 


Winter Break 1971 Part II:  

Seven Days After the Macing I Meet (at a commune) a member of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, or at least this is what he claims. I observe two men French kissing (!). I hitchhike from Santa Cruz to SFO and fly home to New Jersey. I do not return to California for a very long time. 


June 1972: Mick 

I stand outside Mick Jagger’s flat in London for several hours in the rain, but he does not emerge. It is quite possible he is not there, or that it is not actually his place of residence. 


Fall 1980: Bianca J. & Yoko O. 

I glimpse them both during a brief visit to Manhattan. After nine long years of not seeing anyone famous, I think I may have finally become a magnet to the stars, but this sensation quickly passes. 


1985: Jane Hanoi Fonda 

I speak to Jane, via telephone, for less than 30 seconds. 


1994: Reinhold 

I have dinner with Reinhold Messner, but cannot think of a single thing to say to him. However, it does not seem to matter, as Reinhold does all the talking. 


May 1995; November 1996: Superman 

Christopher Reeve breaks his neck and a year later his wife, Dana, publishes a book. I go to her reading hoping to introduce myself as a fellow wife-of-quadriplegic but it becomes painfully clear we have nothing else in common so I return home without buying her book. 


Easter 1997: Archie Bunker 

I sit next to Carroll O’Connor in a bar in Mexico. I say “Hello Archie!” He snubs me. 


1998: Ted and Mary 

Ten Danson and Mary Steenbergen visit the climbing gym where I work and I notice Mary has a rather large derriere for a movie star, and that Ted dyes his hair an unnatural shade of red. 


January 2002: Starting the New Year with Tony Goldwyn 

I have brunch with Tony Goldwyn (the smarmy white guy in Ghost, and grandson to the G in MGM). Tony says he wants to make a movie about my life. He instantly becomes my new best friend, but later he changes his mind and won’t return my e-mails. 


July 2004 A: Edward Abbey shakes my hand 

I shake hands with Ed. He asks me how I’m doing but does not wait for my reply. 


July 2004 B: Ursula 

I chat with Ursula LeGuin and tell her I don’t read fantasies or science fiction. She says she feels sorry for me. 


July 2004 C: Jaws/Strangers in the Night 

Rob Schneider stands next to me at an art show in the Hamptons. His suntan looks bottled and he smells like low tide and Italian leather. We do not speak, but I imagine for a moment exchanging furtive glances. 


July 2004 D: I come full circle in Montauk, New York 

At White’s Pharmacy in Montauk, New York, I wait in line behind Paul Simon. He is much shorter than me, much shorter than when I chased him down that Philadelphia hallway many years ago.  

I consider telling him I am the human eggplant who once stalked him, but then I think better of myself and remain silent, acting like I don’t know it’s him.  

I buy canker sore medicine for my lips which are so sunburned I can hardly think straight, and he buys earwax remover.  

After, in the public parking lot, we ignore one another.