Lindsay came to visit last Sunday. She had driven friends of ours from South Africa down to North Carolina. Every year or so the couple, a doctor and his wife, come to the states to visit some of their children who live here, and speak at churches about their organization, the African Medical Mission. Chris, the husband, did his residency in our little burgh many years ago and they used to baby-sit us when I was very young. We grew up with their children, and when I graduated from high-school I went to South Africa with their help. My mother still claims that they “rescued me.” I suppose she’s right.
We had lunch at the house of some more old friends whose daughter worked as a teacher at the same school as me in South Africa. She came the year after I left, and resided in the apartment that I had lived in. I declined to ask her how many empty beer bottles she found in strange places around the flat, but we did get some good reminiscing in about the characters at the school. It brought back a great deal of good memories.
After lunch we went to see the movie Fracture, which was a good whodunit—or how-he-dunit really—with Anthony Hopkins (he’s Sir Anthony Hopkins isn’t he) being brilliantly diabolical. We both like Ryan Gosling who played an ambitious assistant DA. We were accumulating reasons to believe that this was a good day.
Lindsay had suggested she buy me dinner, anything I wanted, and I decided that a good steak cooked by one of those by-the-numbers chain restaurants would be pretty good. We headed toward the sprawling part of town. On the way we decided that it would be good to be close by to the Border’s bookstore, they having rich baked goods and literature and all. Lindsay suggested the sushi place a few doors down from Border’s and I agreed. It isn’t the best sushi I’ve had but it beats the stuff you get at the all you can eat Chinese buffets—although I eat my fair share of that and enjoy it. Part of my apprehension comes from not being knowledgeable enough to comprehend the menu. And I was a chef! But I kind of figured it out. I got the definition of sashimi wrong when Lindsay asked me, but I did manage to order a very good roll with crunchy tempura eel at the center.
We had just been brought miso soup and I looked toward the back of the restaurant. There is a bar at the back of this place where the experts congenially suggest to the chefs what they want next. The bar was empty except for two men who weren’t talking very much but just eating calmly. I looked at the one closest to me and he looked familiar. He turned his head a bit, and I couldn’t see his face for a moment, but when he turned back I looked harder and thought, “could it be?” I looked for a moment longer until I was sure and then stopped Lindsay, who was asking another question about sushi that I didn’t know the answer to, and said, “Lindsay, I want you to listen to me very closely. I’m dead serious and you have to believe me. I know I’m your little brother and have played a lot of tricks on you but if you ever believe anything I say believe this, George Clooney is sitting right behind you.”
I think she said “No,”
“Yes,” I said, “He’s been making a movie here and I thought that they had all gone home but I guess he is still in town. It’s him, he’s sitting right behind you.”
“Should I turn around?” she said
“No, don’t turn around, please don’t turn around.”
“Are you going to talk to him?”
“No way, absolutely not, I’m too chicken.”
“Should I go talk to him?”
“Yes, you should, you have to, you’re the brave one in the family. You have to go talk to him.”
By this time some local bubbas had recognized him and were getting his autograph. When they left, Lindsay decided that she would nonchalantly go to the ladies room and then pass by him and say how she liked his political stand. I thought this was a good idea, if not a little rushed, but we had no way of knowing how long he was going to stay in the restaurant so we had to act fast. Well, I have to be honest, Lindsay had to act fast, all I had to do is manage large pieces of sushi with chopsticks and try not to gawk.
I was doing just that when all of a sudden I looked up and realized that my sister was chatting with an A-list actor. I saw Clooney extend his hand and she took it and after another brief exchange she turned and came back to our table.
When she sat down she was shaking too badly to finish her miso soup.
We finished our meal and I continued to steal glances at the actor as he sipped saki and ordered something that looked a bit like an ice cream cone made out of sea-weed and fish. I’m almost ashamed at how star-struck I was, but it was incredible fun, and I like this group of A-listers who may not be bringing the golden-age of Bogart, Peck and Grant back, but are more vocal about global issues and effecting change. But really, besides all that goody-goody stuff, I just like to have the bragging rights and the story.
Lindsay and I had a great time talking about it after the fact. We told the young-woman at the cash-register about it and she immediately started trying to get a break so she could rush over to see him. Lindsay worried that we might cause a stampede.
We got so involved in telling the young-woman at the pastry-counter that we forgot our pastries. Lindsay went back to get them the next morning.
I told her that I could have kicked myself for not telling her that he liked to be called “the Cloonster” by his fans. I thought this would have been a good trick to play on her. She said that she wouldn’t have done it even if she had believed me. We started picturing what it would be like to be chased out of the restaurant by cleaver-wielding sushi-chefs, distraught over the disturbance of their VIP.
So I guess it turned out to be a pretty good day. I wasn’t even disappointed that I didn’t get to eat my double-chocolate mini-bundt cake