What Jeff Bridges Said
Santa Barbara Airport, the newly opened (beautiful) terminal, Wednesday morning. Who's sitting there a few feet away from us? Why he's probably on his way to play his next gig in Northern Cal (the SFO flight is next to our gate).
I've seen a lot of celebrities in airports, especially when I lived in Los Angeles. I never went up to Ozzie and Harriet (you'll have to be pretty old to know who they are, Ricky Nelson's parents among other things) or any of the many jazz musicians I revered, such as McCoy Tyner or Dizz. But, hey, when I saw The Dude sitting in SBA, I lost control.
He looks so much like a regular guy, actually recently concentrating on his music, he loooks more like a lot of the musicians I've hung out with all my life.
Suddenly, it was like I was watching the scene from out of my own body as an observer, helplessly looking on, as this fan walks up to disturb an actor who won an Oscar in 2009 for Crazy Heart. As I watched my own hand, driven by some irresistable force, reach out to shake The Dude's hand(WTF was I thinking!) and my mouth saying "Hey man..." and dammit if his hand didn't meet mine and grip it in a predictably firm way, and Jeff Bridges said in that Otis "Bad" Blake voice "Hey!" with a big smile. He's only a couple of years younger than me, so there may have been some doubt as to whether he actually was supposed to know me. Of course, this story wouldn't be honest and true if I didn't tell you that I then said what I hoped is a good, albeit trite thing to say to someone whose work you admire, "I really like your work." It seems serious and sincere (well, it was) and what possible harm can it do?
Before I tell you what Jeff said to that, I have to mention that I have shaken some very famous hands before. I'm not an autograph guy, I'm not a photo op guy, I shake hands and mutter whatever comes to my mind. I swapped a sentence or two with all four Beatles and recall George saying what sounded like "Bagsy!" when I handed him a guitar. Ringo said "What'ya got for me, then?". Mel Brooks said something witty as did Milton Berle. Shirley MacLaine smiled and I can't recall what she said. In short, celebrities, at least the ones I've met, who actually are famous for doing something, for being someone, are most often just people. If you don't try to interfere with them, they're as gracious as you or me, maybe even more so, noblesse oblige.
All this to say, what that Rooster Cogburn voice replied to my compliment, "I really like your work" was just this:
"Well thank you... I like your glasses, man."
Imagine, someone at that level of achievement who, when complimented, sends a vibe like that right back with as much sincerity. I truly believe there's a lesson in this for all of us. I hope I can remember it next time someone says "I like what you do." It does happen, you know.