Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Celebrity Restaurant Encounter of the Hockey Kind

I will be the first to admit that the notion of meeting someone famous has me quaking in my boots! What would I do?  What would I say?  Would I ask for a picture?  An autograph?  A hug? A kiss? Or in the case of Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper...a bit more than that! (wink wink).

For my husband Bob, it's somewhat of a different story.   Thanks to many years of working in the local television industry, he came face-to-face with many a household name and concluded that they are no different than you or I.   In short, Bob doesn't impress easily, and, if we were to be at a local dining establishment and a celebrity sat at the table next to us, he'd most likely ignore them and let them eat in peace.

Unless, of course, you are talking about hockey.

Bob does not merely enjoy hockey...Bob is obsessed with hockey.  More specifically, Bob is obsessed with Philadelphia Flyers hockey....the best hockey there is! (With all due respect to my family in Buffalo, New York, and Raleigh.)

How obsessed is Bob?  I'll tell you.

We currently own:

-A Flyers welcome mat.
-A Flyers flag that is a permanent fixture on our outdoor patio. (Which I am forbidden to ever take down, lest its removal be blamed for a losing streak)
-Flyers place mats.
-Flyer potholders.

-Flyers mugs.
-A Flyers backpack.
-A Flyers lamp.
-A Flyers clock.
-Flyers hats, gloves, scarves, sweatshirts, and jackets.
-A Flyers toaster which of course guessed it...Flyers toast!

You get the idea.

So there we were, on a Saturday night, attempting to enjoy the rare opportunity to go out to dinner and a movie.  Boring folks that we are, Bob and I tend to eat at the same restaurants time and again.  However, on this night we became determined to try something new.  We drove into a shopping center a few miles from the movie theater and noticed a romantic Italian restaurant.  It looked fancy...a bit too fancy for our jeans and sweatshirt attire, but none-the-less, in we went.

My hubs had been in a good mood, no doubt thanks to a Flyers overtime win earlier in the day.  Throughout the game, as usual, Bob "coached from the couch" giving Peter Laviolette, the actual coach of his favorite team, a constant stream of, shall we say, "colorful" words of wisdom.  Yes, there was no love lost between Bob and Peter....or so I thought.

The Italian restaurant welcomed us, and showed us to a small table in the corner. As we gobbled up the pre-meal bread and gulped our diet coke, Bob patiently listened as I rehashed the events of a particularly bad week.  Suddenly, my hockey-obsessed husband averted his gaze from mine and blurted out at the top of his lungs:


Astonished, I forgot my tales of woe and turned my head, craning my neck to see so that I could personally verify the truth of this announcement.

Sure enough, there, comfortably situated at the table right behind us, sat Peter Laviolette.  All of the harsh criticism lunged at this man from the safety of the sofa seemed to temporarily leave my husband's mind as we sat there in awe, Mr. and Mrs. Star-Struck Goober, debating our strategy.

First point of consideration.  Peter Laviolette (A rather handsome man, I might add) was not dining alone.  He appeared to be enjoying a relaxing Saturday evening dinner with his wife and children.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "You should say hi."

Bob: "He's with his family, I don't want to bother him."

Me: "Why don't you just go over and congratulate him on a good game today"

Bob: "Do you think I should? I mean, I would love to sit and talk strategy with him.  I've always admired him."  (Who took my coach-criticizing husband and replaced him with the star-struck dude now sitting across from me?)

Me: "If he gets up and goes to the bathroom he'll walk right by our table and we can give him a thumbs up and say Great Game!"

Bob: "Maybe I can just snap a photo of him and he won't notice."

Me: "Why don't you pretend to be taking a picture of me and try to get him in the background?"

Bob: "No, he'll know, he'll see me."

At this point I attempted to nonchalantly turn my head around to look at Peter and family, while "pretending" to look at the entrance to the restaurant as if I was waiting for an old friend to walk through the door.

Bob: "Don't turn around, you're being really obvious."

Me: (Turning back to face my husband, who had a clear view of Peter without having to move his head.) "I think he's getting ready to leave."

Bob: "I should say something."

Me: "Go over and say something."

Bob: "No, I can't, I'd be bothering him."

Me: "It looks likes he is finished eating and getting ready to leave, you should say something."

Clearly, a strategic decision had to be made!

(Please read the next sentence in the voice of a hockey announcer.)

Bob takes out his iPhone, positions the camera directly at Peter, and TAKES THE SHOT!   (Hockey fans will understand the pun.)

As the 3,000 megawatt flash of the camera illuminated the entire restaurant, I turned bright red of embarrassment.  And he thought I was being obvious!  Unfortunately, Bob's attempt at photography produced a grainy image of a guy without a head.  So my husband responded guessed it, illuminating the restaurant once again by TAKING THE REBOUND SHOT, which resulted in a grainy, blurry image of Peter as he stood up from his chair.

Oblivious to the actions of Mr. and Mrs. Goober, Peter thanked his waiter and followed his family out the front door.

In the meantime, Bob proudly showed the photo to the couple who sat at the table next to our's (who probably regretted their seating selection), and proceeded to text the photo to every hockey fan he knew!

So Peter, wherever you are, I am so glad you decided to dine at the same Italian restaurant as Mr. and Mrs. Goober last Saturday night.   Thanks to you, for a few fleeting moments, memories of my bad week took flight, replaced by my husband's smile, and lots of shared laughter.

To my Bob, thank you for always being there for me, when I'm happy and when I'm down and when I monopolize a romantic Saturday night dinner with endless complaints.  I'm so glad you love me nearly as much as you love hockey!  You'll always be a celebrity super star in my eyes...........

However, I take no blame for my actions if Hugh Jackman were dining right behind us!

If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments section below!


  1. What an amazing story and memory that'll be replayed a million times more for everyone he knows!
    I've never been giddy around athletes (I bartended in an Applebee's frequented by Colts and Pacers), but if you ever put me face to face with one of my favorite authors, I'm sure the speechless Goober would emerge BIG time!

    1. Hi Chris - wouldn't you love the chance to sit and have a cup of coffee with one of your favorite authors!

  2. What a brush with greatness! I was once behind Ashley Judd in airport security and took 5 attempts at a nonchalant photo of her. They are all horrible - but I totally get Bob. Great story, Lisa!

  3. Tell your husband he should never, ever pass up an opportunity to introduce himself and say hello to a celebrity and tell them he likes what they do. It is an opportunity he may never get again and I have heard that famous people are actually quite gracious and understanding as long as you are courteous and brief.

    1. You are so right Cindy! Well maybe we'll run into him again some time!! Oh well.....