Friday, September 26, 2008

Breakfast With Tom

When I posted four days ago about the debates, I had no idea what would happen this morning. I was joking about meeting Tom Brokaw, and even mentioned his name four different times in that post. But that's not even where this story began.

I heard through Casey, who heard through our friend Deborah (the one who was on Wheel of Fortune back in January), that The Early Show would be taping on our university's campus this morning. They were welcoming all community members to be in the audience, and Deborah and a few other women had decided they wanted to go. I thought it would be fun, but the only catch was that we had to be there by 5:30 a.m. I am no morning person, but I still dragged myself up at 4:15 to go to the taping, because hey, you never know what can happen, right? You never know.

Turns out that other people are willing to get up even earlier than the three of us who turned up, because the place was absolutely packed when we arrived shortly after 5 a.m. Not only would we get no on-camera time, the only way we would even see any part of the taping was to stand on some chairs, and we found the last few that were left. So, there we were, off to the side, watching Harry Smith do his thing and cheering along with the crowd. Deborah, Monica and I stayed for about two hours -- and it still wasn't over! -- until we decided to go. It was fun, we got our pictures of the crowds and of Harry (and one of the local papers actually took our picture and took our names...I think because we were wearing matching shirts from the campus ministry so we looked kind of 'group-ish'). Making the long trek back to our cars, we talked about all of it, and how we were glad that we had gone, even if we didn't have our five seconds on the air. It was still an interesting time.

Neither Deborah nor I had eaten any breakfast, so by 7 a.m. we were back to our cars and talking about food. Monica had to go home and couldn't join us, but Deborah suggested going to Bottletree Bakery. You may not be aware (I wasn't, anyway), but apparently Oprah featured one of Bottletree's pastries on her 'favorite things' show. Deborah's mindset was, "Maybe Oprah will be having breakfast at Bottletree!" A friend of ours who is helping with all this debate craziness gave us the inside scoop to the fact that not only Oprah, but Arnold Schwarzenegger as well, are in town. I honestly did not think that we would see or meet Oprah at breakfast, but I was hungry enough to agree on going.

Before you make the assumption, no...we did not see or meet Oprah. But the story is not over.

Deborah and I arrived at Bottletree Bakery and it was running at its usual hectic pace -- it is an extremely popular, but small, establishment near the town square. We walked in and stood in line, not yet knowing that if we wanted to eat there we should have seated ourselves and waited to be served. We were in the 'to go' line. But while we were standing there, Deborah whispered to me, "Tom Brokaw is here!" and of course my response was, "No way!" but as I glanced around I saw him sitting along the counter like any other customer. Tom Brokaw.

When we made it to the front of the register and were told that we should be seated and wait to be served if we'd like to stay, two seats at the counter just happened to be free, so we grabbed them. And where were those seats? Only a handful of seats down from Tom Brokaw himself. Deborah immediately went into fan mode, pulling out first her phone and then her camera and surreptitiously placing them on the counter at an angle to capture Mr. Brokaw eating his breakfast (some kind of granola cereal) while he talked with a university person who had brought him to Bottletree. I went into please-don't-let-him-catch-us mode, suddenly pretending that I didn't know who Deborah was. Don't get me wrong -- this was all extremely amusing to me, especially when Deborah would dial a number on her cell and have the following conversation with several different people:

"Hey...I can only talk for a minute, but guess who is sitting just four seats down from me? Tom Brokaw. Yeah...okay, I have to go." Meanwhile, I would be both laughing at these whispered calls and trying to decide what to eat for breakfast. Should I eat what Tom is eating? No, don't want to look too obvious...although who doesn't want to say, "I'll have what Tom's having"?

By the time we had ordered, we knew that he would probably be leaving soon. Deborah was again in fan mode: "When he walks by us, I'm going to ask for a picture with us." I was mortified. "No, Deborah!" as she asked the woman next to her if she would take the picture. But then he was walking by, but only to pay for his food at the register, then walk back by to leave a tip at his seat. Deborah once again decided she was going to go for it. I couldn't watch.

As Tom walked past our seats at the counter to leave, Deborah stood right up and asked for a picture. What he was saying in reply I could not quite understand, but I was sure it was a rejection. Suddenly Deborah was telling me to "C'mon!" and we put our purses on our seats and I followed her towards the door.

"Where are we going, Deborah?" I asked in a still-mortified voice.

"Outside!" she shot back over her shoulder. Well...obviously.

When we were outside the door, I saw that about four or five other women stood there with their cameras and picture-takers, everyone ready for their turn to smile with Tom Brokaw. But in that very familiar voice of his he announced, "Okay, we're just going to do one big group picture. Everybody ready?"

I was barely ready, and as I just happened to be standing right next to him, Tom Brokaw put his arm around me! And before I knew it, my arm was around him! I think it was at that moment that I thought to myself, "You know, Tom Brokaw is not a bad-looking man!" Deborah was next to me, and everyone else was on the other side of Tom. As there were five or so camera-holders, we stood there for a bit of time, longer than I would have ever imagined I would have my arm around a journalism giant.

And then it was over. I turned as we all let go and sort of patted his shoulder as I said thank you. I don't think he noticed. Did I care? No...although I do hope I get a mention on his next broadcast. Hey, you can laugh all you want, but just four days ago I was joking about meeting him and today the man had his arm around me!


Ruthie said...

WOW .. how fun to be YOU.
and go Deb... way to go gettem.

i dont know if anyone else would say this to you .. but you look like you could be related to him!

VmarksTheSpot said...

That's a story for the scrapbook for sure! I'm so glad you shared it! To think you were standing shoulder to shoulder with a journalism giant (and, more importantly, have the photo to prove it! ;-). Pretty cool.

Shellie said...

Could I have YOUR autograph?

tracey said...

Ruthie ~ Yeah, Deborah definitely deserves all the credit for making this happen. She had the guts and I reaped some glory. You think Tom and I look like we could be related? Hmm...yeah, haven't heard that one yet, but it's interesting!

Vivi ~ Thanks! Yeah, I think if I didn't have the photo, it wouldn't have made such a good story. Would people have really believed me? =)

Shell, you're hilarious! And no, you may not. ;)

Kim Seidman said...

total score, tracey! That's amazing! I keep thinking I'd have similar run ins to famous folks by our proximity to DC, but look at you down in Miss!

Jacqueline Hudson said...

This is awesome. I am happy for you!

Jenece said...

I'm so happy for you! This is awesome! Congrats! I like the new layout of your blog! Was it hard to change. Also, congrats on your blogger award! Did you submit your blog somewhere?

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