I am so behind in life right now it’s embarrassing. We are getting ready to move in less than a week, it is December 17, my Elf hasn’t even shown up yet. There is no Thomas Family Christmas Card. I am a mess. But, not too much of a disaster to wish a very Merry Christmas to the man who has made a difference in my life. Slow your roll friends, this is not a sappy shout out to my husband and the father of my Handsomes, my amazing dad or even any of my brothers. But if you know anything about me, you know that this silly little sprite made an impression on my heart 20 years ago and I have never been the same.
June 1995. No Internet, no cell phones, a few dozen cable channels and a stack of ads cluttering the kitchen table. There were no text alerts or emails offering 20 percent off a purchase in the next 10 minutes. If you wanted to know what was hot and on sale, you mulled through page after thin, grimy page of glossy ads. Second only to the Have You Seen Me? cards that I painstakingly studied just to be sure that no one in my class was living with a group of secret psychopaths, I loved those ads. I liked to look at Target and Walgreens, but my very favorite weekly was Venture. There was something about the black and white stripes that was sort of memorizing.
One particular Sunday as I watched Zach and Kelly head to the Max and break up, again, I mindlessly scanned the Post Dispatch. When I got to the middle of the Venture ad I nearly had a heart attack. There he stood tanned and flashing those pearly whites like no one else could. His brown locks positioned perfectly on his head and his brown eyes piercing a hole right into my heart. I was so taken aback that his picture was right there in the middle of the women’s clothing spread that I nearly missed that he would be coming to visit St. Louis the next week.
Holy hell in a handbag! There was no way that my sixteen-year-old self was going to miss this. It was a dream come true and I could hardly contain myself. In order to make this a reality, my mother had to take the day off of work. But, she too, knew that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and wanted in. We recruited two of my three brothers and my Nani, who never missed a good time, and we were off.
The appearance was scheduled for noon, but I knew that if we weren’t there when the store opened, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in fiery hell that we would even be able to get near him. Security would certainly be beefed up for such a big celeb, so we couldn’t risk it! As I rounded the corner to make my way down the long aisle to the Women’s Department, I was in a total state of shock. There was only one person there! It was the best moment of my life. I was going to be up close and personal and in the front of the line.
After what seemed like hours. It was seriously like four, the crowd had multiplied over and over and it was just about time for him to arrive. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. What would I say? What would I do? OMG, what if he doesn’t like me? Suddenly, there was a burst of sound like a huge thunder clap. I turned as he appeared at the end of the aisle. It was as if he was surrounded by angels singing and a burst of light beamed from his wings as he began to prance down the aisle. I was overcome, awestruck, I thought I would faint. There was nothing that I could do to control myself, the tears just started to fall.
I wasn’t the only one. Legions of fans surrounded him, toting signs, books and VHS tapes. The all wanted a part of the man who had changed their lives. They wanted to thank him for making them smile when they needed it the most. They wanted to hug him and give back the feeling of unconditional love and acceptance that he had shown them. Some even wanted to rip his short shorts, but their wasn’t enough time. As quickly as he had made it down the aisle, he was up on stage singing, laughing and sweating.
The consummate happy man with encouraging words and a positive attitude that could rival any manufactured television personality was there to do what he did best, make people smile, and smile we did. Well, some of us ugly cried before we were old enough to truly understand what an ugly cry is, but I digress. In that store, in that moment moment in time, we were a united front of happy fans. There was no judgement about who we were, what we looked like or what we stood for.One single person was able to make so many people feel good about themselves just by being himself.
As I walked out the door that day I felt blessed. I was humbled by the outpouring of love by one person for everyone in that line. It was genuine caring, genuine concern, the kind that is absolutely impossible to fake. It was a happy day for so many, one that we will likely never forget.
Today, I read something that made me sad. Really, really sad. The kind of sad that makes you hurt a little. Richard Simmons has not been seen in nearly two years. He is suffering in some way and is apparently no longer leaving his home, according to a story on TMZ. This man has devoted his entire life to making others smile, but for some reason, his joy is gone. It’s tragic, really.
Sure, people make fun of him because of the way he looks, the way he dresses and the way he acts. Yep, he is flamboyant. His shorts are short and his tanks are tight. But, his heart is huge. Richard has devoted his life to making other people feel good and to live a happier and healthier life. I challenge any one of us to simply treat our own family members with that kind of compassion and kindness, not an easy task.
I am one fan. One insignificant person with a story even more insignificant. I was never morbidly obese. I haven’t been hospitalized because of my weight. I have never been desperate seeking help so that I don’t die. Many of the hearts that Richard has touched have been in worse predicaments than this. I was just inspired by someone who cares about others and has a positive attitude.
When I update my blog, which is embarrassingly infrequently, I normally just talk about my kids and the funny things that the say. Of course, I also point out all of the dumb things I do too, just to be fair. But today, I have a mission, I want to Rally for Richard. He needs love and hugs and prayers. Whether you have never been Sweatin’ to the Oldies or had to Deal a Meal, I would be willing to bet that at the very least, you laughed until you cried when he was on,‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’
For the record, the above account, totally happened. I cried like a baby, like, I could barely console myself. It was so bad that the only thing that I could do to calm myself down was walk across the Venture parking lot to Wendy’s for a quick burger, fries and a Frosty to wash it all down.
Years later Handsome #1 had his first celeb encounter at Walgreens