Monday, October 04, 2010

Mel Tillis

I go to the same place for lunch every day to write and work on stuff related to my writing. Sometimes I make friends with people or they make friends with me, either way. Because the same people are there every day.

So when someone new makes an appearance, I tend to notice.

This is Nashville, so occasionally I'll see "celebrities." And throw myself at them, begging, pleading for an autograph and a picture.

No, really, I don't do that. I pretend to be cool. Because that's what normal people do. Though I often wonder if the celebrities wish more people would act impressed with them. Because...well, that's why they became rock stars, movie stars, etc. Right?

Like I saw Ben Folds there. He glared at me because I did a double-take (I think that's why) and then I got out my phone and tweeted about how he was there (but, I can't for the life of my think why he'd glare at me...Keith Urban did the same thing when I saw him at Border's and tweeted about his Bentley being parked by my truck as I was leaving—we'd stood in line together). With a really young, skanky girl sitting on his lap. Hanging all over him. It was weird. So he glared at me. Yeah.

The Lo-Cash Cowboys are always there (at first I spelled it Cowbows. That's funny. Cowbows. They should change their name), looking ridiculously done up in carefully torn jeans and lots of bandanas all over them. And often they have skanky girls with them. And I don't really know who they are, I only found out because they're there all the time, planning their next media, country-star attack and what have you. I suppose they're nice enough, but I can hardly approve of men with veritable ladies-of-the-evening on their arms.

And I guess Ryan Adams and Jack White frequent the place, but I've never seen them. There are always dudes and women there who look like they're "someone" but I can't place them, and probably some of them are just wannabes. The girl from that band, what's their name, Lady Antebellum was there talking about her awards show she was attending that night and the cashier didn't recognize her. It happens. It's a little sad. Not that Lady Antebellum are wannabes. That one song is awesome. Whatever it's called. It's good. Seriously.

But so far, the best has been Mel Tillis.

If you don't know who Mel Tillis is, well, he's sort of legendary and you should know who he is. He's like up there with Waylon, Conway, and Kenny Rogers. Those cats. You know? Apparently he stutters, but when he was talking to me, I didn't notice. And his daughter is Pam Tillis, and some people might know who she is because she had that great song "Maybe It Was Memphis."

Mel struck up this conversation with me and I didn't recognize him. I was sitting there, typing away happily, pretending my writing matters and will someday make a difference, and this person was hovering at my elbow sort of, and I looked up at him and it was this lovely old man.

"Sorry. I'm waiting for my man over there. He's getting us some drinks." He smiled and indicated this schmoozy looking guy in the line. All decked out in business casual attire like you'd buy at J Crew.

I smiled and nodded at the old man, thinking he looked familiar but I couldn't place him. So I went back to writing.

Then he asked me, "Are you writing a book?"

"Yeah," I said bashfully, because isn't everyone writing a book? It seems like it to me.

"You've been typing away for a while. Real fast."

"Yeah, haha." I said.

"I'm writing a book."

"Oh cool, nice."

"Sort of. What's yours about?"

"Um. It's science fiction sort of."

His man came over with some drinks, then some other guy entered the establishment carrying a Mac laptop, waved at them, and approached the group. So now there's like three men hovering around me. And it's crowded. I pack up, not because they're in my way; it was time to go.

"Is this your writing team?" I ask, because he's staring at me expectantly and both of his men had Macs and he had nothing to write with.

"Oh no, no, this is my publicist and this other guy is from the Tennessean. He's here to interview me." (The Tennessean = Nashville newspaper.)

The publicist says something about not being a writer and I laugh and say, "Isn't everyone writing a book, though. Get on board, you know." I grin sweetly. I can be sweet.

The newspaper reporter mutters something grouchy about how he hasn't time for books, he's too busy writing real journalism to pay the bills (I embellish).

The old gentleman asks me what my book is about and tells me he'll read it when it's done. I say how it's for young adults and he doesn't seem to know what that means, but then he tells me some confusing things about his book, it's about a sheriff in Palm Beach (or somewhere) and "just about a bunch of shit" and stuff. I laugh and say well doesn't everyone want to read a bunch of shit? He laughs and then introduces himself and shakes my hand, I guess because I haven't figured out who he is yet.

And I have, sort of. I figured he was someone I should know (he was being interviewed, he has a publicist, he's wearing cowboy boots, and a great button-down I might add), but I didn't want to ask and embarrass both of us if he wasn't who I thought it was.

I tell him I saw him perform at the Opry. I was backstage when Porter Waggoner did his last performance—the one when Dolly sang "I Will Always Love You" (which, by the way, was heart-wrenching and brought the house down . . . if you know the whole story about that song and Porter). And I remembered Mel because he looked absolutely stunning in a dark brown polyester suit with a harvest-gold button-down dress shirt.

I didn't tell him that whole paragraph. But I wanted him to know I knew who he was. I'm not some naive young person (well, not completely naive anyway) who doesn't have a grasp on the legendary country singers. And it was just a few days prior to that that I was thinking I needed to get some Mel Tillis tracks because I've been sort of starved for new, old, good country.  If only! I could have said, "Oh, man I love such and such. Great song."

Old country music is where it's at. And Mel Tillis. Classy. He was fantastic. I left feeling like a pure moron for not knowing who he was and reducing him to having to tell me. Celebrities don't like that, do they? I mean, it's humbling, right? Our job is to know who they are so they feel worthwhile. :) Right? I slacked on my duties.

I wish I had told him my name because, dang! You know? He offered to read my book. I really hope his book is a hit. He wrote a billion good songs. He's obviously got something going on there.

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