The hotel was crawling with famous people that day. There had been a celebrity golf tournament down the street and the charity benefit was being held in the hotel's auditorium that night. The bellmen were as giddy as schoolgirls when Ahmad Rashaad
parked his red Ferrari
in the fire zone ten feet from the front door.
I'd like to say that I am unimpressed by celebrity but it wouldn't be completely truthful. A hotel bar can be a very dull scene and the appearance of famous personages always provides a lift. Because the lounge was such a non-destination VIP's relaxed their guard, often mixing with the hotel guests and generally enhancing the scene.
A handful of the luminaries were having cocktails in the lounge before the banquet and I overheard them mention Bill Murray. When I delivered the drinks I asked if he was going to be at the party and they said he was going to emcee. I said the drinks would be on the cuff if they could drag him into the bar after dinner and they promised to do their best.
About a dozen hotel guests were camped in the lounge all evening, trying to look as though they weren't waiting for the famous people to return. There were three people sitting at the bar and by strange coincidence the guy from Chicago was a dead ringer for John Belushi. He made it known that he couldn't care less about celebrities and that he runs into them daily in his hometown. Bill Murray could plop down next to him on the train and he wouldn't look up from his newspaper.
After the banquet a small contingent of big shots returned to the lounge and to the delight of the masses had Bill Murray in tow. He wasn't in his chair for five seconds before the guy who wasn't impressed by celebrities shot off of his barstool and ran to Mr. Murray's table.
He butted into their conversation and proclaimed that his friends told him he looked exactly like John Belushi and that since Mr. Murray knew him well he could act as the final authority on the question. The look on Bill Murray's face spoke volumes about the insensitive man's resemblance to his recently departed friend. The comedian's response was immediate and blunt and hilarious.
"John Belushi was a dear friend of mine and he was one ugly mother fu**er...and you're sort of an ugly mother fu**er.....yeah, I guess you do look like John Belushi!"
He didn't think it was funny. He thought it was so unfunny that when Mr. Murray went upstairs to tuck in his son, he followed him into the elevator and menaced an apology out of him.
The angry guy from Chicago never came back to the bar but Mr. Murray did. He chatted up all of the hotel guests and remained polite when they whipped out their cameras. When he asked if I wanted a shot of us together I said "what's in it for me?" He slipped me fifty bucks and though he may have been paying the bar tab, I like to believe he was bribing me for the photo op.
It's a Cinderella story.