Have you ever had a brush with fame? It is a unique feeling — at least for me, it is.

Have you ever had a brush with fame? It is a unique feeling — at least for me, it is.

I’ve met a few famous people over the years, and there are still more I’d love to meet, but it’s not likely to happen. 

I know it’s silly, but I get nervous about meeting famous people.

When I was young I met Al Hrabosky of the St. Louis Cardinals. My mom took my brother and me to meet him at Northwoods Mall. I got his autograph, but I didn’t know who he was, so the autograph was lost over time. Now, I see on the Internet an autographed photo of him goes for $19.95.

In high school, I went to a concert at the Illinois State Fair to see The Psychedelic Furs, an 80s new wave band I adore. I stood in the front row and Richard Butler, the singer, slapped my hand. I was on cloud 9. 

In college, I saw another band I really liked called Faith No More. Again, I was in the front row and Mike Patton, the singer, did a stage dive and landed on me and my friend. We actually held him up in the air. Prior to the concert, I saw him walking around outside eating yogurt. I asked if I could take his photo, and he agreed.

In 2000 or 2001, I met the band Tesla in East Peoria. It wasn’t that exciting. We waited in line for a long time at the Event Center and they didn’t talk to us. They just signed stuff, snapped pictures and were done.

More recently, I met Mike Ness from the band Social Distortion and Jimmy Gnecco from the band Ours, which was very exciting to me. Most of you probably haven’t heard of them, but they are bands I really like, so meeting them was a treat. I spent a good 30 minutes talking to Gnecco who told me his mom’s name was also Jeanette. 

During these encounters I’m happy and nervous at the same time. Part of me does not want to be intrusive on another person’s life, but part of me wants a picture and autograph. I also want to ask 100 questions, but I figure they’ve heard every question under the sun a million times, so it makes me feel guilty to ask.

After meeting someone famous, I’m kind of bummed that it’s all over. It’s only a brief moment in time. It’s like winning the lottery only to find out a few moments later it was a mistake and you have to give it back. It’s fleeting. I suppose it’s like meeting Santa Claus when you’re a kid — the anticipation, the big moment and then it’s over.

Over the weekend, I had another chance encounter with fame.

My boyfriend and I were driving home from Wisconsin Dells Sunday, and we stopped at Ziggie’s Family Restaurant in Mendota to eat at 3 p.m.

From the interstate, we had to drive 2 miles into town. There was only one other vehicle in the parking lot.

When we entered I saw what I thought was a woman in an out-of-date beige suit standing over a glass counter reading something. It turns out it was a man. He had light brown shoulder length hair, a pale complexion and a sharp nose. His 70s style suit was beige and looked like polyester. That stood out, but what really grabbed my attention were his neon pink socks that were exposed above his brown suede shoes.

I was intrigued by this man because he was different and looked artistic. 

My boyfriend and I sat on the other side of the restaurant. I made a comment about the man who I thought looked kind of Amish. My boyfriend came to the conclusion that the man was dressed that way because he was poor.

I kept staring at this man’s back. I thought he might be European. That would explain the strange clothes. Then, I heard him speak and he did not have an accent.

When I went to the restroom, I had to walk next to the table where the man was sitting. He looked up at me and our eyes met for a moment. 

He was with two other men in dark suits. One had a moustache and the other had a hands-free device in his ear.

When they got up to leave, the Amish-looking man put on a light blue scarf and a brown coat that had fake or real fur lining the rim of the hood.

Later that night at home I thought about the captivating man I saw and it hit me suddenly that he looked like Wes Anderson, the film director, producer and writer. 

Anderson’s movies include “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Rushmore,” “The Darjeeling Limited” and “Bottle Rocket.” 

I looked at Anderson’s picture online and saw he was wearing the same kind of coat the man in the restaurant wore. I also learned that Anderson, who lives in New York City, was in Chicago for an advanced film screening of his new movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel” the previous day. 

I was now almost certain that’s who I saw at the restaurant in Mendota, and by Monday, I was certain of it.

Being like my idol Sherlock Holmes, I did not want to let this mystery go. I kept investigating and saw another photo of Anderson on the Internet Monday morning.

There were two more pieces of evidence in addition to the coat that make me certain it was indeed Wes Anderson I saw. 

In the photo on the Internet, he was wearing the same brown suede shoes and another pair of bright socks, this time, red.


Now, I am left with another mystery and a feeling of disappointment.

What was Wes Anderson doing in the little town of Mendota, out in the middle of nowhere? I am sure he was coming from Chicago, but where was he going? Perhaps he was traveling to visit his family in Texas or going to another movie screening elsewhere.

The once-in-a-lifetime chance encounter is gone, and I didn’t even get a picture, so Wes, if you see this, call me. We'll do lunch!


— Jeanette Kendall is the executive editor at TimesNewspapers and the editor of the East Peoria Times-Courier. She can be reached at 309-681-3733 or by email at jkendall@timestoday.com.