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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Meeting Rowdy

Six weeks ago I went to a masters swim meet in Long Island. About halfway through the meet I noticed that the Olympic champion and NBC commentator Rowdy Gaines was there. A lot of people were approaching him to have their pictures taken with him. He graciously posed with all of them, his arms around their shoulders.

I would have felt foolish approaching him like that, but about half an hour later, I was talking to a young woman who evidently knew him, and she called him over so I could meet him.

I quickly thought about what I should say to him, and decided on, "I'm 60, so I remember your glory days quite clearly. I remember how absolutely astounded I was when you went that 42.3 for the 100 yard free, and that 1:34.5 for the 200 free, and also your long course records of 49.1 and 1:48.9. I just couldn't believe that anybody could swim that fast."

I figured he didn't meet many people who could just recite his times, so he might get a kick out of it.

After we shook hands, I said, "I'm 60 years old --" and he quickly interjected, "No way! You're 60?!" He pointed at his own forehead and said, "Hey -- what happened? You forgot to get wrinkles!" 

He said all this in the kind of ultra-sincere tone that seems second nature to a certain type of Southerner. He then added, sotto voce, "You have got to give me the name of your dermatologist."

By this point I had totally forgotten about the little speech I had prepared, though I did manage to say, to the young lady who introduced us, "Listen to this guy -- he's just as charming in person as on TV."

(He's actually more charming.)

At that point some other people approached Rowdy, asking for pictures, so I made my exit. After I had walked away, I remembered what I had meant to say, and it occurred to me that he must have thought that I had told him that I was 60 simply to fish for a compliment -- which he then obligingly delivered.

He probably hardly gave the matter any thought, but that really didn't make me feel like any less of an asswipe.


Steven said...

nah you could have been about to say anything. He probably didn't even interpret it that way.

John Craig said...

Steven --
I doubt he gave it a second thought, to be honest. Still, would have been better if I'd completed my little speech.

Anonymous said...

That's pretty funny, he out charmed you even though you had you lines rehearsed. Shows your a good guy for wanting to impress and make him feel good at the same time, he probably forgot 10 seconds later.


John Craig said...

Thanks Andrew, I hadn't actually "rehearsed" those lines, just thought of them quickly as he was walking over. (I HOPE he forgot ten seconds later.)

Wodgina said...

ha yeah those cringing moments eeek


John Craig said...

Andrew --
You're Wodgina?? I remember he was from Australia too. Had wondered what had happened to him.

Steven said...

Yeah that would have been good!

Anonymous said...

Very funny story, John. I feel your pain! Julie

John Craig said...

Thank you Julie.