I was working at an independent bookstore in Richmond, Virginia at the time. I loved working there, and I have a lot of fond memories of the place. I had been told that it wasn’t too uncommon for celebrities to shop there on occasion – in fact Keanu Reeves even stopped in once, but that was before my time. At his point I had been working there about a year and a half, and was in training to be an assistant manager. One of my duties was writing the store’s email newsletter.
On this particular day, that’s exactly what I was doing. I was in the office, which was separated from the rest of the store by a louvered folding door, the sort you normally see on a closet. People in the store couldn’t see my as I sat at the desk typing, but they sure could hear me.
As I typed I had my headphones on and was listening to a CD of Sex Pistols and Ramones tunes that I’d burned. I didn’t realize what I was doing until one of the other ladies that worked there opened the door and made shushing motions at me. I hadn’t realized it, but I had been singing along to the song I was listening to. Very loudly, and very off key (which, if you’ve ever listened to Sid Vicious singing My Way, you’ll know that off key is the only way to sing it.) I pulled the headphones off, but before I could say anything, she pointed toward the checkout counter. I followed her gesture to see a tall, vaguely familiar man paying for his purchase at the counter. He must have felt the weight of my gaze, because he turned and met my eye, chuckling. It took me a moment to recognize him. It was Penn Gilette, of Penn and Teller fame. One of my favorite illusionists ever. I shot him a sheepish grin, and I could feel the heat creeping up my cheeks turning my face bright red. I slid the door closed and sank down in my seat, and after a moment turned back to my work, quietly this time. I would have loved to have gone and talked to him, but I was way too embarrassed.
If you’re ever in Carytown in Richmond ,Virginia, stop by Carytown books and browse a little. Buy something if you can and help keep the big chain book warehouses from driving the independent bookstores out of business. You never know, you might just bump into someone famous.