|Members of the European team warming up|
A couple weeks ago I attended a practice day at this year’s Ryder Cup in Chicago. Since we needed to head up to Chicago to help the oldest kid get moved into her new apartment before school started, Charlie decided to get tickets for the boys and him for the first two practice rounds. I tagged along on the first day, Tuesday, in the hopes of running into a golf celebrity or two while taking in the delightful scenery of one of Chicago’s finest golf clubs. Of course I was not disappointed.
The day began EARLY. We woke up at 5:30 a.m. so that we could find our way to Union Station in time to catch the 7:00 a.m. train to Medinah. The entire train was filled with golf fans and I listened as they told stories of beautiful courses and interesting golfers and predictions on who would win this year’s Cup. After an hour we finally arrived at Medinah and made our way to the course.
Did I mention that it was early? Oh, and already the beer stands were open. And selling beer. At 8:00 a.m. – as in THE MORNING.
Since I desperately needed to find a restroom, an exploration that took no less than thirty minutes, I caused the boys to miss the pros warming up on the range. But I did finally find the porta-potties (which are still gross – even at a fancy country club).
We did, however, manage to see a few of the Europeans practicing on the putting clock, which was directly across from the first tee, which is where we decided to begin our day.
We watched as the European team teed off and then slowly made our way along the ropes toward the first green. Once we found a spot that provided an optimal viewing point of both the middle of the fairway and the green, we camped out and waited for the Americans to come along. Finally, after freezing my tush off and breathing in the fumes from some old guy’s cigar for about an hour (or maybe shorter, I can’t remember clearly because, did I mention that it was EARLY and there was a lot of cigar smoke floating around?), we spotted Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson as they made their way down the fairway. Hooray! Now this is what I came here for. They waved at the crowd as they passed by, kidded each other about one thing or another, and moved along to the next hole. After the last group of the American team – the one with Tiger – played through, we moved on to see what all Medinah had to offer. And to look for food and another set of porta-potties. Man cannot live on coffee alone, you know.
After walking around the course for a while, Billy and I decided to head back to the driving range in the odd chance that we might find some of the participants for the Celebrity Pro-Am tournament warming up. HELLO! Jackpot!
We joined about fifty other people along the ropes that formed a passage for the celebrities to pass through from the driving range over to the putting clock. And those guys were signing autographs as they passed through! We saw Ben Crenshaw, Lee Trevino, Michael Phelps, George Lopez, Bill Murray, and Justin Timberlake. And all of these guys – except Justin Timberlake – stopped to sign autographs, pose for pictures, and generally interact graciously with the fans.
|The always entertaining Bill Murray|
Now, here is where the day’s lesson took place.
I am a big fan of Justin Timberlake. I think the boy can sing, possesses great musical talent, and is hilarious. But people, he was a big disappointment in real life.
|Quick, look! It's Justin Timberlake!|
While the other celebrities relied on their Medinah hosts to shuffle them from one place to the next, Timberlake brought his body guard and entourage of around twenty people. Yes, you read that correctly: HE BROUGHT HIS BODYGUARD. To the Ryder Cup. You know, to keep the frenzied fans a safe distance away. Because EVERYONE that attended the Ryder Cup only had one purpose that day: to maul Justin Timberlake.
But wait, there’s more.
While all the other celebrities (including America’s beloved Michael Phelps – you know, the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time) took a few minutes and walked amongst the commoners, signing autographs and hamming it up for pictures, Justin simply gave a wave of his hand as he passed by in his golf cart while his bodyguard informed us, “Not now, everyone. Justin will only have time to sign at the end.” Which would be fine, except that he was on the same time schedule as all the other celebs in the tournament….
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know these guys don’t owe us anything, and I believe they deserve their privacy just as much as the next person. And, honestly, initially Timberlake’s behavior really didn’t strike me as odd. But then I observed the manner that all the other celebrities handled the small crowds that gathered around them (and, when there are approximately 20,000 people at an event, ten to twenty people gathered around to watch you swing a golf club is a pretty humbling number of fans, if you ask me). Lee Trevino stopped and carried on entire conversations with some of the fans (as is his custom to do) and Bill Murray engaged in a humorous exchange with a drunken single gal who offered up all sorts of perks if he would consider her marriage proposal. George Lopez stopped and took pictures or signed autographs with EVERY fan who requested his attention (now THAT was time consuming). These men were all extremely gracious and acknowledged the fans in a manner that delighted and entertained.
|George Lopez poses for a photo op|
And Justin just walked around the golf course with his bodyguard and Jessica Biel (who, by the way, carried a small umbrella that shielded her face from the sun. I guess she forgot to bring her sunscreen) and twenty of his closest friends and confidants. It was, as one fan so eloquently described it, completely obnoxious. And, unfortunately, the whole experience left me more than just a little bit deflated. While I’m certain Justin has signed more than his fair share of autographs during his career, I was very disappointed by his display of self-importance and indifference toward the people who clamored around him in the hopes of receiving a brief acknowledgement of their appreciation of his talent and contributions to the entertainment world. Because, after all, that is really what getting an autograph is all about: a brief exchange of respect between a celebrity and his or her fan.
So, the moral to the story is this: No matter how accomplished you may become in life, never forget those who helped you along your journey to success. As Dr. Huxtable was always so fond of stating to Theo, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you back out.”
Oh, and never use a porta-potty if you can avoid it.
How about you? Have you ever met someone you admired, only to be disappointed after the introduction? Have you ever gone trolling for autographs? What is your favorite celebrity encounter? Where is the strangest place you ever had to use a porta-potty?