Mr. Chris's Blog:
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HOLY STEPHANOPOULOS, SWEATY BILL!
February 16, 2016
In the Summer of 2003, I was in Reagan National Airport preparing to catch a flight to NYC. Tonya and I had been to NYC several times to visit her sister and with some Big Apple experience under our belts, we were accompanying my parents and my brother on their first NYC trip. This was also my brother’s first plane flight. I recall watching him across the aisle as the plane was taking off, totally high on adrenaline, pumping his fists like it was a roller coaster. He was so excited! Meanwhile, Tonya sat beside me reading Psalm 23:4 and holding on for dear life. She was sooo not excited! I joke with her about her fear of flying, but in her defense, this wasn’t that long after 911 and we were planning to visit Ground Zero on this particular NYC trip. The last time we had been to lower Manhattan, we were hanging out with Tonya’s family at the top of the North Tower. That was Christmas 2000. Even writing this now, it is still so hard to believe that actually happened. Never Forget!
So there we were at Reagan entering the security line and my Mom mentions to me that George Stephanopoulos is in line behind us. I didn’t quite understand her and was likely picturing that woolly mammoth from Sesame Street, but I recognized George as soon as I turned around. He said hello and shared some brief chit-chat with us. He was alone and appeared legitimately nice and comfortable with normal public interaction. He was dressed in a nice business suit. Again, this wasn’t long after 911, so the requirement to remove your shoes for the security check was still new. We all removed our sneakers and George removed his shiny dress shoes, and what we saw at that point was a total shock! George had holes in the toes of his dress socks! That’s right, this former White House Communications Director and well-known political analyst and TV personality had holy socks on! Now I have been off the fashion train before and have had periods where I didn’t shop a lot (become an accountant and have kids, and it will happen to you as well), but I have never worn holy socks and would certainly never wear an “airy pair” to the airport. In my opinion, it is no different than leaving the house with dirty underwear on. No one would ever do that and risk being embarrassed at the hospital; you know, after that accident your Mom said you could potentially be in on any given day. Why did our Moms preach that terrible message? An accident or hospital visit on any given day is a remote likelihood at best, and further, I expect they have to deal with some crap at the hospital already (no pun intended). Shouldn’t you ensure you have clean underwear on because, well, it is just gross otherwise? It makes no sense, but then again, my Mom would also preach things like “Don’t make that face, it will freeze that way” or “Close the door! You weren't born in a barn!” or the infamous “Enough is enough!” It was good to grow up with an older brother as he could translate these bewildering statements to me given his years of experience with the Mom language. The translation often was “Stop it Chris or Mama’s gonna give you a whippin!”
Anyway, George didn’t seem to notice or care that we saw his holy socks. We kept our composure long enough to get to our departure gate, and then we totally lost it, like the peeing your pants level of funny! However, he’s not the only celebrity fashion foul shot I have witnessed during my travels.
About 5 years ago I had a frequent travel routine between VA and DE and it was easier to take the train than to drive or fly. The trip North was always simple, the trains were always empty and business class seating was always available for a reasonable upcharge. The return trip South was always stressful and crowded until everyone exited in DC. You basically found a spot in whatever seating class you could, regardless of what ticket you paid for. Yes, it’s true that sometimes you can’t buy class. Just ask Kanye West.
On one late Friday afternoon, I boarded the Amtrak in Wilmington, DE and set forth to find a spot in business class. The business class car that I had entered had no available seats, so I walked forward to the next business class car, but there were also no available seats. I continued forward through several more business class cars, but there were no seats available anywhere. So I decided to trek back through business class and head toward coach seating, totally frustrated. On the walk back, I found myself stuck behind a slow-walking, older man. He was sporting grey sweatpants and white sneakers, which is kind of funny to me in general, but especially for business class travel. I am not one to judge, but he struck me as someone who probably didn’t travel much, and the type that probably came on board with a Snuggie.
Ok, let’s address the Snuggie here. To me, the Snuggie is kind of like Dust Mop Slippers or Fanny Packs. Very practical, but weird; however, probably not to someone who would wear sweatpants and white sneakers in business class. If you own a Snuggie, I mean no offense and should apologize I guess. So I’m sorry……that you own a Snuggie! I almost bought a pair of Spanks for Men once, which is in the same ball park, right up there with that camping tent Honda sells that attaches to the back of the minivan. The Spanks purchase would have happened though if the sales lady wasn’t so pretty. When she said “Can I help you?” I put the Spanks back on the table and played it off with a fake laugh. I said “I was thinking about getting these as a joke for a white elephant gift exchange.” Unfortunately, it was about that time that an older salesman had returned to the men’s section and said “Mr. Campbell, I checked with Distribution and we can have 2 pair in your size here tomorrow.” That is when I pretended to receive a very urgent business call…but anyway, sorry for that tangent.
So I am stuck behind this older man in sweats who is bobbing up and down as he slowing walks in front of me in business class, and I happen to notice how weird it is that people are saying hello to him. People are rarely friendly on packed trains, and for more than one working professional in business class to say hello to “Old Man Snuggie” was odd to me. Then he stopped at the back of the train car to ask an Amtrak employee a question. Still frustrated, I said “Excuse me sir, do you mind if I pass by?” He turned, put his hand on my arm and nicely said “Go ahead son, come on through.” I kid you not, it was Bill Cosby! As he looked at me and guided me forward with his hand, I just said “Thank you sir.” I was too in shock to say anything else. First, why is Bill Cosby on an Amtrak train? Second, why would he go out in public dressed like someone ready to clean out their garage? Anyway, I found a seat in coach, posted about my encounter on Facebook, and just laughed. Mom would have loved seeing that one as well, but I am glad she wasn’t there. It is way too crowded to pee your pants in coach.
So Stephanopoulos and Cosby; both big names with a public image to worry about, but neither seemed to care at all about that. George knew he would have to remove his shoes at the airport, and Bill knew that people who recognize him on the train. I actually respect it though. It is refreshing. I really like that these incredibly talented and successful men can feel comfortable just being themselves in public. Our world needs more of them. Who cares about celebrities who are famous just for their beauty or their image of perfection? Give me the celebrities who can act, sing, tell jokes, or communicate the political news better than anyone else. Let’s be in awe of that and just let them be comfortable when they’re not on stage.
So George, keep on wearing your socks, shedding your shoes, and sharing your holiness with the world! And Bill, keep on wearing your sweatpants, but for Pete’s sake, please leave them on. You’ve apparently shared enough already.
Until next week,
© Chris Campbell. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.