Over the course of my life I have had a few interactions with certain celebrities and for the most part they have been fairly good experiences. I always walk away feeling a little surprised that these said celebrities were normal people like me. I can’t understand why I would think that every celebrity burns stacks of money in their furnace or hire poor immigrants to be human footstools but unless they prove me wrong, that’s the assumption I make. Anyway, today’s story is about an odd encounter I had with Emeril Lagasse.
A few years ago I worked at the Alliance Center (pictured above) as a corporate project manager and I must say, I hated it. I am not what you call “corporate material” by any stretch of the imagination. Everyday consisted of going to the same meetings with the same people raising the same concerns and answering the same questions with the same answers. You know you have a bad job when you take breaks through out the day just to ride the elevator. The one good part about the job was I had some perks at the restaurant on the lobby floor because their account was under my project portfolio. The restaurant was ‘Emerils’ inspired by none other than the famous Emeril Lagasse himself.
Since I had a few perks at the restaurant, one including a big discount on a bar tab, I became pretty good friends with most of the staff there. I am a firm believer that people in the food service industry are the greatest American we have. No where else can you find harder workers who have to take shit on a daily basis from the cock suckers of the world. If you are ever at a restaurant and you are snotty to a server for no reason I swear I will stab you in the leg with a soup spoon. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, well over the course of discussion one night the bartender told me they were working double time in preparation for the emperor himself to arrive, Emeril Lagasse. They hated him. Apparently he was a real ass to all the chefs and servers but he is the man so they sucked it up. And since hurricane Katrina shut down his main place in New Orleans he would be staying in the ATL for quite some time.
Weeks past and my job really took a turn towards the busy side so my beer days took a hit and the chance to meet Emeril left my brain. That is until I past him in the parking garage. He really is a lot shorter than I thought. I mean he’s not short like qualifying for a handicap sticker but short enough to play keep away with his hat indefinitely. Regardless of his height, he was the most famous chef in the world and the dude did drive a really nice Mercedes. I couldn’t help but notice that this was one of those cars that had to be the same price as a nice house. I also noticed there was a tie was sticking out of the passenger side door. That’s when my stupidity took over, as usual.
“How cool would it be to have a tie that belonged to Emeril Lagasse?” Actually in hindsight, that’s pretty dumb. Who would believe or care whether I had a tie that belonged to Emeril? It’s not like I could invite dinner guests over and bring them into my closet to look at Emeril’s tie in a glass case. I’m not even a big fan. But that wasn’t going through my head at the time. The only thing that was, was this, “tie..tie…tie..tie..”
So I watched Emeril and the lady in the business suit walk across the drive towards the building and then I started to work on the tie. I pulled with all my might but it wasn’t happening. I guess that is why you pay $100,000 for a car because that door was vacuum sealed and wasn’t giving an inch on that tie. I should have remembered that when I slammed my own tie in the door a few weeks ago. My memory isn’t what it used to be.
Well, the tug of war was turning out to be a stalemate so I did the dumbest thing one could do in that position. I tried the door handle of the Benz. Wouldn’t you know it? The fucking alarm went off. I went out of body the second that “BLEE BLEE BLEE” alarm sound rang out in the echoing garage because I have a vivid memory of me standing there, hand on tie and other hand on door handle. Emeril and the lady he was with stopped in their tracks and looked back to see me there, evidence in hand, wide-eyed, looking directly back at them. They slowly started to walk back towards the said vehicle with me, trapped like a raccoon in a garbage can, obviously guilty of something.
I tried shouting over the alarm at them, “BLEE BLEE BLEE …YOU SHUT…BLEE BLEE..YOUR TIE IN…BLEE BLEE… THE..BLEE BLEE …CAR”
Emeril, with a look of both confusion and annoyance, tilted his head to hear what I was saying as he fiddled in his pockets to find the keys and stop the alarm. Finally he hit the alarm button on the key chain and asked, “what’s going on now?”.
God I wanted to run but I assumed that would have just led to a possible termination, police chase and a spot on “World’s dumbest Criminals IV”. So I collected myself and in a shaky voice and a red face I said, “You shut your tie in the door and I tried to get it out for you but I set off the alarm. Sorry about that.”
Emeril looked at the tie sticking out of his door like the tongue of a dead dog and said, “Oh…”. Then came the long awkward silence. I picked up my briefcase and went to gracefully exit. But before i could take a step he looked at me, smiled and said, “thanks”.
I didn’t know how to take that. Was he being funny? Was his agent calling the cops as we exchanged awkward glances? Will I be a story on his show as he kills dead time between sauteing the sauce and adding the “BAM” to whatever he is cooking? Am I about to receive a punch in the nose from his disproportionately sized grabbers? Nope. He extended his hand and introduced himself as Emeril Lagasse and asked my name.
After our introduction he invited me to dinner that night on the house. Wow, and here I was trying to steal his tie. What a shitbag I am. I gracefully declined, saying I was honored but I had to drive to Augusta to see the girl I was dating at the time and that was at least 4 hours with Friday night traffic. He said the invitation was open anytime and we went our separate ways.
I got in my car, hands a shakin’. That could have been bad on so many levels but it taught me a valuable lesson; If you are going to steal a celebrity’s tie from their car, wait until they have left the area.
Be sure to check out Pammy’s story over at MacabreFitness!