I'm typically not one to boast. But every now and then, we experience such a fabulous brush with greatness that the star-struck voyeur in us can't help but blab about it to the first 500 or so people we happen upon or in this case, thousands of readers. Especially when it involves a famous movie star. And we're not talking washed-up, late-night, run-of-the-mill infomercial standards like Richard Simmons or Dr. Ruth. This is "movie star" with a giant, gilded, capital "M." You know, as in, say, Robert Redford.

That's right, I saw the downhill racing, horse whispering, Sundance Kid himself during a recent trip to San Francisco. We were awaiting the arrival of a friend outside the airport when I spied the trademark corduroy blazer, jeans, T-shirt and baseball hat emerge from the sliding glass doors. Seeing as how I was not wearing my glasses at the time and could probably have mistaken my own mother for a movie star, I asked for confirmation from my cohorts.

"Isn't that Robert Redford?" I asked, proudly pointing out my discovery.

Every neck in the car immediately craned and began nodding in unison as he walked by. Seems the hours of poring over trashy magazines on the plane had paid off and for once, my faulty vision proved correct. Robby Redford was standing 15 feet from where we were parked.

Let me clarify that this wasn't just a chance glimpse of the back of his head as he ducked into a limo surrounded by a large entourage. No, this was prime Big Bob viewing, as plain as the nose on my face, which was firmly plastered against the windshield to which I was now stuck like a giant bug. In fact, we were in such pole position that we were able to observe him chatting with a friend (unfortunately not Paul Newman), rifling through his briefcase and (insert gasp of disapproval here) lighting up a smoke.

That's right. The Electric Horseman runs on nicotine.

OK, so this little tidbit may border on tabloid gossip. But I am, after all, a journalist, so it is my duty to report the facts. And I saw Robert Redford smoking like a summer tourist train, which for a regular purveyor of his so-outdoorsy-and-rustic-it-makes-you-want-to-puke Sundance catalog, comes as a bit of a let down. It was sort of like finding out Mother Theresa swears like a sailor or PeeWee Herman is a letch. All right, so maybe it wasn't that bad. After all, it's not as if he had his zipper down, spinach in his teeth or, horror of horrors, was freakishly short. In fact, to his credit, R.R. wasn't even cheating with high-heeled cowboy boots. And he did earn Regular Joe points for stooping so low as to fly commercial. So, I guess I was willing to let the cigarette thing slide, although it did quash all chances of me ever leaving my husband for him. Which is good, because it would have been a little awkward introducing him to my parents.

Although I imagine R.R. and I would have a lot to talk about. He went to CU; I went to CU. He once worked at The Sink; I spent so much time there, they should have offered me a job. He jumped off Baker's Bridge; I've ridden my bike over it. He owns his own ski resort; I like to ski.

Of course, this is all pointless conjecture, seeing as how I was purposely restrained inside a locked vehicle so as not to do anything stupid, like offer him a light from the car's cigarette lighter. Seems for folks in California, star sightings (yes, even sightings of The Big R) aren't anything to let your latte go cold over. In fact, stars are so commonplace that residents actually get bored with them. So although I was digging furiously for a pen and anything for him to sign, my California-bred friends reacted with about the same amount of indifference they would reserve for a parking valet. But just in case I decided to do anything potentially embarrassing, like scream his name or throw my underwear, they made sure the windows were rolled up and the doors locked.

Not that I would have done either. Let's face it, Bob's getting up there, and I'm no Anna Nicole Smith. Besides, by the time I had plotted my escape, R.R. had dashed off into a limo and was long gone, leaving me only with memories of the way we were.

Missy Votel




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