It’s Sunday morning at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. I’m hungover. The effects of my delicate condition seem to be increasing as the day progresses. And it’s only 11am…still plenty more hours to “enjoy” the day. The wisdom of ordering doubles is slowly dawning on me… Maybe it was not that wise.
I attempt to multitask checking the flight board for the gate of my Boston flight, trying to Facebook a friend from my phone to see what gate her flight’s going out of, and trying to fight the growing urge to find a shaded corner for a catnap. While doing all this, my natural inclination was to lean against the large pot containing a small tree for indoor greenery…Such effort was taking a lot out of me.
Sundays usually aren’t too congested at O’Hare, so passersby were few. As I glanced up from my smartphone noticing two gentlemen passing by, my brain instantly processed a familiar face. Not just recognizable, but familiar. Familiar in the way that you happen to spot a friend and your brain registers favorable memories of them. Then those memories initiate whatever neuron transfers are required to create the feeling of joy at seeing that individual. But I’ve never seen that face in person. So why would I experience joy at seeing that particular familiar face? (Which was accompanied by a very severe case of bedhead) Striding within feet of me, in all his tall lanky glory, was my hero of the travel world, Mr. Anthony Bourdain! Hanging out with a colleague, whom I also recognized from his show on the Travel Channel. And Mr. Bourdain looked like he was hurting as bad as I was.
The gentlemen walked by me and sat themselves down at a table in the little make shift indoor patio of the Wolfgang Puc restaurant within the terminal. Clearly the best accommodations Terminal 3 has to offer. As is pretty much required when you’ve spotted an internationally recognized entity, I did the traditional “double take” to ensure that I was not just experiencing the delusional effects of dehydration. Target confirmed: Authentic Anthony. I looked around to see if anyone else was recognizing him. No one even turned their heads. “Fools!” I thought to myself. “You people don’t understand what kind of intellectual endurance it takes to produce high level witticisms on a daily basis! Or the impressive metabolic anomaly which must exist within him that maintains such a slight figure while hosting a show about eating food all over the world.” In my state of being overly susceptible to mood swings, due to lack of complete control over my mental faculties, I was appalled by the lack of respect being shown. Following that emotion, I was instantly overcome by the enormity of a decision I had to make. What do I?!
I’d like to think that I’m an interesting enough person. That people who meet me like me and would think it worthwhile to enjoy my company while getting to know me further. I’m always friendly, funny, and courteous. But at that moment, I was also pretty hungover…While he looked VERY hungover. When I’m in such a state, talking and entertaining strangers is not on my preferred list of things to do. Breakfast, water, and the interchanging napping with lounging on the couch ARE. I was struggling with thoughts of not wanting to be a rude intruder upon the time with his friend while acting like a typical star-struck fan asking for pictures, autographs on napkins, and gushing all over him like an idiot. (I’m sure if I had a few drinks in me I could pull off being a lot smoother) But this is the Sultan of Sarcasm! I didn’t want to find myself in a paragraph in his next book referred to as “that crazy chick that accosted me while post-bender at O’Hare”. But I have great admiration for this guy and his career. I’m taking an amateur leap into travel writing with him as part of the inspiration. I will always regret NOT saying something!
So I quickly zipped over to his table, focusing more on my actions than my thoughts, because if I allowed myself to focus on my thoughts I’d most likely only hear “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!” over and over in a merry go-round through my head. I approached the table, sensing the beginnings of an adrenaline high (or the beginnings of a fainting spell), and leaned over saying “Excuse me, Mr. Bourdain. I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I couldn’t pass by an opportunity to say ‘Hello’ to you” and then I went on to tell him that I am a fan of his shows, enjoy his writing, and have admired his career. He thanked me for the kind words and gave a very authentic, if yet very tired, smile in appreciation. Then I said that I would leave them to enjoy their meal and that I very much appreciated having a chance to meet him. And turned heel and skipped away.
As soon as I turned the corner, I began mad texting anyone who would care! My hands were shaking SO bad! And autotext didn’t even know what to do with me so it took a lunch break. I was overcome with joy, elation, and disbelief at the turn of events this morning! Then I started regretting not asking for a picture, but I reasoned with myself that my main purpose was to be short and respectful, not a crazed fan. BUT I REALLY WANTED A PICTURE!!! Then I started considering even more possible regrets. I should have told him about my fledgling website. Maybe he’d reach out and offer some worthwhile advise? Maybe he’d offer to mentor me? MAYBE HE’D HAVE ME ON THE SHOW! (clearly rational thought wasn’t completely winning out under the circumstances). Maybe I should have said something more memorable?! He’s just going to forget about me and file me under all of the other random people that approach him. Then I came to a realization…
I should have just said “Hey I’m hungover as shit too. Mind asking the server for a third glass of water?”