Happily seated at a gate at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, I had just satiated my hunger with a $7 snack (apparently that’s the going rate for a chocolate milk and a bag of pretzel chips that contains more air than pretzel chips) and was engaged in my two favorite traveling pastimes: deep thought and people-watching.
I was constructing elaborate narratives for a group of fellow fliers as they de-boarded a plane originating from parts unknown, at least to me, when one of them caught my eye.
Having always been good with names and faces, it didn’t take me long to realize who this well-dressed, bearded gentleman was.
It was Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard of The Frames, The Swell Season and the darling 2006 indie film “Once.”
How exciting, I thought. This was certainly the closest I’ve ever been to an Oscar winner, not to mention, someone whose work has made me cry on several occasions — in this case, Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s song “Falling Slowly.” The song won the pair an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2008.
I thought it best not to mention the crying thing to Hansard, but I did eventually muster up the courage to congratulate him on the success of the new “Once” musical, which took home seven Tony Awards earlier this year. (Thanks, iPhone.)
He couldn’t have been sweeter, and I walked away a little jacked up on adrenaline but otherwise impressed with myself for seizing the opportunity and managing to keep it cool.
It got cooler.
As I looked down the corridor, I saw Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton striding toward me, accompanied by an airline employee who seemed all too pleased with himself to be walking alongside the Heisman Trophy winner.
Naturally, no one noticed Newton, who is every inch of 6’5” and was sporting giant headphones and sunglasses indoors. What a perfect disguise.
It became apparent as I watched him try to board a flight that had not yet started boarding that Newton was on my flight to Savannah. As was Glen Hansard.
We soon started boarding and as I filed pass Newton, who was seated in first class, and Hansard, who was not, I could only think about one thing: Buddy Holly.
If this sucker goes down, we’re all getting Ritchie Valens-ed, I thought.
No one will care if you were the best pharmaceutical sales rep in southeast Georgia or a bank manager or ... an occassionally read local columnist. For example.
Even Hansard is getting bumped to the third or fourth paragraph. And he won an Oscar.
I contemplated taping my resume, replete with my professional accomplishments, to my chest as the plane departed Charlotte and soon landed, without incident, in Savannah.
As we deplaned, I wondered if any of my fellow passengers knew just how close we had come to being casualties of history.
But I knew.
This week, in honor of my brief brush with fame, a playlist of musicians and bands I wouldn’t mind sharing a flight with, if, for no other reason, so I could ask them a few questions while they sat captive beside me at 30,000 feet.
And a bit of advice for celebrities: Wearing sunglasses in a place where no one else is wearing sunglasses is not the best way to deflect attention. But something tells me that’s not what you want.
• Fiona Apple, “Shadowboxer” — This girl just needs a hug. I’d even spring for a poorly mixed, $12 cocktail. But only one. What am I, made of money?
• The Civil Wars, “I Want You Back” — I think I could convince this Nashville duo to play me little ditties until I fell asleep.
• Kings of Leon, “Trani” — We might need a long, transatlantic flight, but I think I could help the famously dysfunctional Followills patch things up.
• Ben Folds Five, “Emaline” — Also need a time machine so I can convince this band not to release their most recent record. Utter dreck.
• Mike Doughty, “I Just Want the Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep on Dancing” — A fascinating, funny guy with an incredible life story. Would be entertaining.
• John Mayer, “The Age of Worry” — A guy I’ve always admired. Far more funny, self-deprecating and smart than he ever gets credit for being.
• Paul McCartney, “We Can Work It Out” — Maybe I can ask Sir Paul for a loan. You know, before his next divorce.
• Paul Simon, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” — Want to see if he can really name 50 ways to leave someone. I only counted five.