Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mary and Michael Chang

Michael Chang at the 2014 US Open
I was reminded, as I watched the first Major Tennis Final without a ranked player in recent memory, that Mary had a personal relationship with Michael Chang, who was on the screen almost as much as his new student, Kei Nishikori.  It was a coincidence that brought them both for rehab appointments: his for a tennis injury, and hers for an ACL injury that limited her brushing her hair and limiting how she put on a bra for about eight weeks.  She says that the table near table relationship never got past casual comments, but it was more than seeing someone famous at the airport.

And that got me thinking about how most of us will have occasion to meet some famous people through our lives; usually not live-changing events, but a memory that stands out for some time.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump
Although Mary’s life was no parallel to Forrest Gump, the fictional character who met Elvis Presley, “Bear” Bryant, John F. Kennedy and numerous others, she did have one more significant meeting: with Pat O’Brian, the actor who was unsuccessful in luring her uncle from a dental career in Wisconsin to Hollywood.  We saw him in On Golden Pond, when he was likely approaching eighty, and were impressed with the actor trait that dropped twenty years off his age, voice, and movement the minute he was in front of an audience.

She tells of one more: a Congressman from Illinois who, recognizing her need for nourishment held then two year-old Sean while she wolfed down a quick snack (when airlines still served food).  She doesn’t remember his name, possibly because he followed many similar Chicago politicians into infamy, but I remember he was a figure of national prominence.

We also met Peter Bonerz on more than one occasion at Marquette events.  You may remember Peter as a regular on the Bob Newhart Show.

My recollections include Pancho Gonzalez, who was ranked World #1 for a record eight years.  I met him at a cocktail party in   Newport, Rhode Island, where he was being honored and I had the good fortune to have a sabbatical year at the Naval War College.

My next one of note was Orson Bean, who I met in St. Thomas, an event I chronicled in my book, Harnessing a Heritage. I had an opportunity to meet him again about thirty years and at least two wives later (him, not me) when we saw him in a play at the Segerstron Center.

I’ve been fortunate through my life to meet many people, famous and/or in high positions, including dozens of dental Admirals, several of whom danced with my mother and were friends of my father.  Unfortunately, it seems like most of the ones I know have passed, some very recently.  In my corporate world, I met several leaders, the most impressive probably being Leonard. B. Schaeffer, who headed WellPoint for several of the ten years I was there.  I was fortunate enough to score a coup in 2000, when I got him to be the keynote speaker at the CADP Annual Conference.

My almost forty years of professional acting has put me on the stage or screen with several notable stars, my favorite being Danny DeVito, who is shorter than me and had trouble with his lines.

When I remember these contacts I am reminded of a true story I tell about meeting a corpsman friend, out of the service and into the dental supply industry.  He met Mary and me at a cocktail party and, after some “what have you been doing” chit-chat, left saying, “I want to thank you for changing my life.”  As he walked away, Mary asked me what I did, and I truthfully said, “I have no idea.”

It’s a humbling thought to think that I might be on someone’s list as Michael Chang is on Mary’s.  I’m sure that those of you who think back on your life will find people similar to mine and perhaps even instances similar to that of me and my corpsman.
In my next Post I intend to explore a new field of opportunity.  I am calling it The Rise of the Scribes.  Please plan to join me.

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