Celebrity in the House

Posted on Saturday 17 June 2006

I have become a complete and total skeptic.

I didn’t used to be. I used to be a literalist and the most gullible simpleton on the planet.

Old me: Don’t waste your time telling me a joke; I won’t get it. Don’t kid with me and expect a laugh; I won’t figure out you’re kidding until you tell me you’re kidding.

Current me, nine months into this business: Yeah, whatever.

That’s right, I don’t always believe a person’s introductory line at my podium–for good reason. I have addressed this sad reality in previous posts. Burn me once–shame on you; burn me twice–blah, blah, blah.

So, when a meticulously dressed gentleman walked up to my podium at 3:30 on Friday afternoon and told me he was a famous R&B singer’s bodyguard, I didn’t blink.

I also didn’t believe him.

“Yes, um, I am [famous R&B singer]‘s bodyguard. She would like to dine here and I’ll need a table for six.”

“Certainly, sir,” I smiled, because you never know, right? “When would you like a reservation for, this evening?”

“No, not for tonight,” he replied, glancing out the front door. “She’s outside waiting in the car. She’d like to come in right now.”

“Oh, well, that’s no problem,” I replied, pretty sure he wasn’t for real. “I have several booths open that are perfect for six people.”

“I won’t be sitting with her, of course. I’ll be at another table, or standing just outside the room.”

No, of course you wouldn’t sit with her. At that moment, though, a tiny inkling of believability was creeping into his side of the conversation.

“She also needs a table in a quiet, private part of the restaurant, where she won’t be bothered.”

“I understand, sir,” I smiled, knowing we only had several sections open at this quieter time of the day, and there was nothing private about any of those tables. “But, you realize we are a public restaurant, and the table I have in mind is surrounded by other tables and other patrons, although it’s not very busy right now.”

The inkling of believability was growing into a distinct possibility of truthfulness. And yet, I wasn’t 100 percent convinced.

The guy could be here on a dare, part of some bachelor-party prank or something. He could be hanging around with a celebrity look-alike, trying to pass her off as the real thing–just to see if he could. He could be nothing more than a…nobody.

But I decided to go along with his story. Why not? It was quiet and almost quitting time for me.

Sure, let’s play, pal.

“I realize this is a public restaurant. It’s just that we’d like the quietest table to you have available. I’d really appreciate it. Whatever you can do for us.”

Hmm. He was nice, polite, and not overtly demanding. What the heck–I’m in.

“Sir, I’ll be happy to take care of [famous R&B star] at a table that should work quite well.”

“Great!” he practically gushed. “I’ll let her know. She’ll be right in.”

He turned toward the front door and paused. “What’s your name,” he asked. “I’m Joseph, and you have been really helpful and nice about all this.”

“No problem, Joseph,” I answered, now mesmerized by his graciousness. If he was a scam, he was good. “I’m Restaurant Gal, and I am the head maitre’d here. Happy to help.”

The second he stepped outside to get his celebrity charge, I grabbed a server and asked, “Would you know [famous R&B singer] if you saw her? I know her music, but I’m not sure I would recognize her in person.”

“Sure, is she really here?” the waiter asked, glancing around.

“Maybe. Hang out here with me and watch,” I told him, nodding at the front door.

We were not disappointed. In she walked, with five friends. Joseph followed behind her.

The waiter’s mouth dropped. She must be for real.

Cool!

We seated her in a closed section. Servers, bussers, and hosts were told to leave her alone. And she ended up having a great time for an hour and a half.

About half-way through her meal, however, three more friends stopped in and asked for her bodyguard by name, using it like a secret password with me.

“Yes, right this way, gentlemen,” I discreetly said, walking them toward her table. But as they walked ahead of me toward her table, I noticed they were wearing jackets with the words “[famous R&B singer] Road Crew” embroidered on the backs.

So much for discretion.

In the end, they loved the place. No idea if she was in town for a concert, a movie, or for any other reason. I just know she dined with us for a brief time and headed back out to her car.

And the next time someone tells me a famous personality is waiting in the wings to eat at our restaurant?

Yeah, whatever.

7 Comments for 'Celebrity in the House'

  1.  
    Sarah
    June 18, 2006 | 6:49 am
     

    I just wanted to tell you that I love your blog and I read it often.
    This post reminded me of a couple years ago when I had a celebrity come into the nightclub that I worked in. His manager/assisant came up to me and said he was in with “famous actor guy” and he wanted to run a tab and get some drinks. I at this point I did’nt know who this guy was and if he was for real, so I told him that I would need a credit card to run a tab for him and “famous guy”. He looked at me as if I was a total idiot and eventualy gave me his credit card after I had to explain to him that I didnt care who he was or who he was with and that I would not run a tab for him without a card. It ends up he was with “famous guy” and I did somewhat embarass myself, but at least I knew they were unable to drink and run!!

  2.  
    Restaurant Gal
    June 18, 2006 | 7:48 am
     

    Sarah–Yes, for half a second one feels stupid for doubting that someone is representing the famous person they say they are with, but if you are cool about it from the get go (as you were and I hope I was!) and just stay professional, it all works out.

    –The Gal

  3.  
    June 18, 2006 | 8:10 am
     

    That’s funny… I am like you, and have no idea when there are celebrities in my midst. Oddly enough whether they interact with you or not depends on whether they like it if you know who they are. Mostly I don’t care, but I try to treat everyone with respect, so it usually works out just fine. A couple of my stories…

  4.  
    June 18, 2006 | 8:29 am
     

    Chef JoAnna–Love your site and your stories.

    –The Gal

  5.  
    SaltyMissJill
    June 18, 2006 | 11:53 am
     

    I just spent the past hour reading your archives and have now added you to my favorites! I’m a 15-year ‘in the biz’ veteran and am going back (with some trepidation) into serving to supplement my Master’s degree level job.
    Thanks for sahring your blog, thanks for your great attitude, and thanks for being a fantastic all-around human being…

  6.  
    June 19, 2006 | 12:40 pm
     

    And what if that person is Kenny Rogers??

  7.  
    June 19, 2006 | 6:30 pm
     

    Phil–As you well know, I have a special plan in mind for Kenny when he stops by….

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