Like all towns, Monona has a fair amount of public people who reside in it.
Recently I was told that I was rude because I did not introduce some people who I was with to a public figure who I am neighbors with.
We were at a park near our home when this happened. The public pereson in question was juggling three small children on playground equipment. It struck me as odd that I might have been rude for not introducing the people who I was with to this public figure.
If you live long enough you more than likely find yourself in the path of a public person. Long before we were married my wife and I encountered Oprah Winfrey on a street in Chicago. We kept walking, although I would have enjoyed meeting the woman attempting to get into a car.
On a train to Boston from Chicago, when we were wearing a rut in that portion of the country, we sat in a cafe car alongside John Madden who was reading. He is famous for a fear of flying. We ignored him.
This has become a pattern. I never considered it rude or questioned it, although our teenagers felt like we missed out the summer of the election when we saw our current president riding bikes past us with his wife and children during a visit to Chicago.
The year we were married Rose Kennedy turned 100. We were living on Cape Cod. All of Hyannis Port was flooded by people attempting to get a glimpse of the big Kennedy Party that July.
We had lived a few doors down the road from the Kennedy Compound long enough to come to ignore it and the sightings of United States royalty.
I went to the beach that Sunday to avoid the crowds determined to ‘encounter’ a Kennedy. That was when I bumped into Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Alone on a stretch of sand I later learned the Shriver Family owned, I was annoyed by their appearance. Who were these people who were suddenly a part of my solitude on an isolated beach I had made my own since living there?
I felt invaded by the couple with a young child in their arms who laughed and took photos, not recognizing them in my bothered state.
As I was leaving, my time alone on the shore ruined by these people, they were also leaving. On Cape Cod large green flies that bite are a part of the summer landscape. Salt boxes are positioned near the shore to attract them but they still can be a presence. This is when I realized who the couple I was bothered by were.
‘Wicked flies,” the man said in a voice that could only belong to Arnold Schwarzenegger. I nodded then left after a few moments of local small talk that never included my disclosing to them that I knew who they were.
Later when I told people this story, as all of Cape Cod talked about the chaos the birthday party for Rose Kennedy had caused, I was surprised when I was told I should have demanded an autograph and taken photos.
I was known in those days for always having some sort of camera with me. A woman my wife and I know, who is like a mother to us, said I had more grace than to do that.
It turned out Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger were the ones with grace since I was on a beach they owned and was invading their private moments.
I had the same feeling then that I did recently when I was told that I was rude for not introducing the people who I was with to the man in the park with his children.
Is it rude to ‘ignore’ a public person or perhaps ruder to not ignore them?
Would I want to be approached while I was with my children at a park?
If I had made the introduction I suppose the camera phone might have come out earlier than it did. A photo of the man and his children would have been taken instead of my ushering us to the parking area–on with our day.
I suppose I was a bit rude because I excercised a bit of control over the situation from my end. But then isn’t that what all of us do during our inevitable encounters with public people–one way or another?