Stupid near misses.
I came close to changing the world at least seven times.
1. George Herbert Walker Bush — He was running for his second term. He was dog-tired and disappointed that Americans didn’t give him props for whupping Saddam in Gulf War 1. And he was being hammered by a vibrant, young Bill Clinton.
One of my PR clients was a wealthy Texas real estate mogul, and I was invited along to meet Dubya’s Daddy. While standing in line, I decided what I was going to say.
“Mr. President, America needs you, not that slimeball Slick Willie. But he is kicking your sagging bottom and making you look like a farty old loser. Mr. President, you need to get your mind right. Quit whining, and go win the friggin election, would you please?”
When I was the second in line to shake his hand, the Secret Service guys shuffled him off, before I could rant. And the rest is history. He lost the presidency. And I was not fired for going mental around POTUS.
2. Dave Barry — In about 1990, I was in Dallas at a Dave Barry book-signing. I bought three copies of his book “Dave Barry Does Japan” for me and a wonderful client.
After waiting in line for an hour, I asked Dave to write: “To Barbara, a world class real estate PR gurette. From your greatest admirer, Dave Barry.”
Dave asked me what a “gurette” was (answer: “a female guru”. Duh.). But before he could personalize the book, Dave’s annoying P.R. Barbie stormed up to say that this was NOT ALLOWED.
Sadly, after weeks on the road strumpetting his book, Dave was too weak to resist. Worse, he failed to seize the moment, to grasp that he and I were destined to become the next great humor guru writing team.
Which is why Dave Barry went on to achieve nothing in life.
3. James Garner — I was born in Norman, Oklahoma, which is one of my many birth defects…
My Mom, on a few occasions, dated another Norman resident – James Bumgarner. My Dad, also on a few occasions, snuck out his Dad’s car so he and Jim could go booze it up.
Had Mom been faster on the draw, and married James Garner (he dropped the “Bum” in Hollywood), I would have been WAY taller and MUCH better looking.
Sure, there might not have been a HogsAteMySister, but that’s a sacrifice the world would have had to bear.
4. Alan Alda — In 1986, I had just returned from Singapore, flush with cash and ready to become a famous writer. So when I heard that Alan Alda was attending a black tie function in Dallas, I decided to stalk Hawkeye. It was my destiny.
I waited for hours, which made his limo driver increasingly nervous. About midnight, I gave up. I handed his limo driver a brown envelope that held my resume and a note that clearly explained why WE WERE MEANT to write together. (I know. What could possibly go wrong with this plan?)
Sadly, Alan’s Dad died soon after that night, so he did not call me. But about a year later, I did get a hand-written note thanking me for me “interesting” approach, but politely explaining that he did not require my services, and that he had obtained a restraining order.
Tragically, Alan’s career, like Dave Barry’s, has gone downhill ever since.
5. Jerry Lee Lewis — Which brings us to the Killer.
As a reporter in Waco, ack, Texas, I got the chance to interview legendary singer and complete ass-hat Jerry Lee Lewis.
About nine months previously, he had nearly died from a stomach explosion. But, because he is meaner than a snake, Jerry Lee did not die. Instead, he was on the comeback trail and performing at the Cowboy Club in Mexia, Texas.
I drove 42 miles to Mexia and waited and waited and waited, in a ginormous bar jammed with 12 billion cowboys, all smoking ceegars and wearing boots and Stetsons, and 12 billion cowgirls, all wearing denim skirts, boots, big hair and bad makeup.
Finally, two hours late, Jerry Lee the ass hat entered the bar. After another hour’s wait, I was begrudgingly granted a brief audience with the cousin-marrying Killer. In our short, but unpleasant interview, Jerry Lee and I developed a mutual understanding. He thought I was a butt wipe. I thought he, more than anything in the world, needed me to break a cue stick over his big, fat head.
Had I properly thumped the enormous douchebag, the world would have been a much better place, goodness gracious, great balls of fire.
6. Phil the Idjit Razorback, — In my defense, I had no idea people from Arkansas were idiots. So when I was in Singapore, and an Arkansas friend’s brother needed a traveling companion, I saw no harm in touring through Malaysia with Him and drinking many adult beverages with him in a rural bar in Kuantan.
I did not expect Phil to drop his pants and moon the entire bar when we left, or for two carloads of VERY insulted Malaysians to jump us. Had I been a step slower, I would have died before getting married and raising *Junior, my awesome musician son. And, truly, the world would be a much poorer place.
7. Dean “the Stream” Blevins — Back in 1972, when I was a junior at Normal High School, I heard that I was FINALLY going to suit up for the football-playing Tigers and play on the hallowed Astroturf of Owen Stadium, home of the OU Sooners. Man oh man, was I ever fired up. And forgetful.
Just before the team bus left, I had to RACE back into the locker rooms to get my helmet. Unfortunately, the Tigers’ superstar quarterback, who was hobbled on crutches, happened to meet me in the doorway. Boom! I pole-axed him. He fell backwards onto a table, whimpering in pain, and elevating his already injured ankle.
Had that collision been a split second later, I would have hit him in what our legendary coach called the jewel box.