My husband works as a server at a busy restaurant along one of the bigger roads in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. He gets to meet an incredible variety of people, most of them normal and average Americans, others are rather famous. One afternoon he waited on Maurkice Pouncey, center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and another time he served Bruno Sammartino, the Italian-American professional wrestler from back in the day. Ben Roethlisberger comes in every now and again, and other Steelers players make appearances occasionally too. I have heard the phrase, “Guess who I saw today” from my husband upon his arrival home from work many times.
The only celebrity I have ever seen is Mark Wahlburg, the actor. You know, Marky Mark, the rapper? I saw him in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. We approached the main altar from different directions. We looked at each other and the whole time I was thinking, “I know him. Who is he?” Then it dawned on me—Mark Wahlburg. He gave me a look, like he was saying, “Please don’t recognize me. I’m on vacation and just want to be left alone.” So I did. But I had to fight the urge to find him again and ask for his autograph.
But the greatest celebrity story between my server-husband’s many interactions with celebrities and my one sighting of Mark Wahlburg in the heart of Rome is my husband’s recent run in with an altogether different kind of celebrity.
He came home one evening and told me about this great group of elderly people out for a bite to eat that afternoon. At the end of the meal one of the women complimented his serving skills. He thanked her and asked if they had any big plans for the afternoon. After a long pause, one of the gentlemen explained that they were out for a friend’s funeral. My husband offered his condolences and placed the check on the table. Two of the gentlemen asked if the check could be split equally in two. So my husband took the check and did his best, although the computer split the checks so that one cost four cents more than the other. Upon returning to the table he explained the problem and joked that one of the gentlemen owed the other two cents. And one of the gentlemen, a balding, white-haired man, joked back, clapping his hand on my husband’s shoulder, and said that they’d just have to take the two cents out of his tip. Everyone laughed.
After the aging group left, my husband’s fellow server, an older woman, came up to him and said, “You know who that was, don’t you?” He didn’t. “You just waited on John Glenn, the American astronaut.” And he apparently jipped him four cents too!
When my husband told me this mystery celebrity was John Glenn I found myself more excited than I ever get over any of his other celebrity run-in stories. John Glenn! The astronaut! How cool! If I had to choose, I’d like to meet John Glenn over Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey and Mark Wahlburg any day! I have to admit, I am harboring a bit of jealousy toward my husband over this.