Some people just live up to their name.
Over the years I've had some chance encounters and intersections with many very cool people. A few of them have even been celebrities. Today Twitter (or should I say Paper.li which is an application that makes newspapers out of your Twitter feed highlights) reminded me of one of those connections I'd made years ago.
It had been a completely random affair. My Yelp review from back then would tell me it would be a date (as I frequently blogged about my dating even then but it was on a different blog called I am an Enigma and sometimes elsewhere) but I don't remember it being that. I remember it was my semi-random recommendation for a dinner there with a friend whom I'm still friends with to this day but who has departed from LA for a long time now. He had never been there but I had been there several times having formally lived in the area and having stumbled across this establishment myself during that time.
Ah El Chavo. This is a place that held many memories.. like that one time where...
*But that's a different story for possibly another blog section or maybe a hibernating possible future site which you may get to read later...maybe. I guess you'll have to stay tuned to find out though...
Other stories aside, El Chavo, in its heyday, was tasty and moderately priced. It was also right there by where we were hanging out at the time. I believe we were going to my favorite store/ art gallery in LA which is right down the street from it. Going there just made logical sense.
What I didn't know when we'd gone there, or hadn't noticed previously, was the reason of the litany of framed photographs on the walls of Dolly Parton. Apparently, there was even a huge shrine for/about her there at one point. I didn't know and/or notice this. During my now decade of time here in Los Angeles, celebrities, while interesting and understandably drawing to some, were just not something I found to be something to chase. I view celebrities as ordinary people who have some pretty rad jobs. At the end of the day, I still feel that way even though my intersections with each has been (admittedly a humblebrag here) also pretty rad.
As we sat down to eat that ordinary day, I didn't expect anything other than a good meal and some good conversation. Date or no date (I'm still saying it wasn't a date, sorry [redacted]) it was that and even more.
The crowd there became a bit more hushed than it normally was. I looked up from our food and realized why. Sure enough Hello Dolly herself was there in all her glory just being an ordinary person eating her food as well.
"Hey. Is that?" I said to my compadre.
"I think it might be! You should go over and say hello!"
"She's eating. I don't want to bother her. I don't want to be rude. Let's just eat too and talk about something else."
We did continue the rest of our conversation. While doing so, unbeknownst to me, however, he also texted his friend to come out there though. I guess she's a big Dolly fan. About ten minutes or so later, she showed up with her husband to meet with us. It was all a bit of a rush. I then found myself being pushed forward by this stranger.
"Jena. Go say hello. Come on. I know you can do it. I'd do it myself but I'm too chicken."
Begrudgingly I obliged the request. I walked over and tapped her on the shoulder. I felt so terrible interrupting. The whole restaurant was watching me, my little not quite five foot and dressed rockabilly self, meander over there and guts up the words in my tiny, not quite a lion voice.
"I do beg your forgiveness and pardon for this interruption of your dinner Miss Parton but my friends' friend wanted to say hello and..."
"Well aren't you just the cutest little thing?! Of course, you can say hello. It's no problem!"
I *might* have blushed.
Dolly was, and is, indeed a doll. She was kind, warm, and genuine. The rest of the restaurant got even quieter and just watched us as we said hello.
"Can we get a picture with you as well? I promise we'll go away after and I feel bad for even bothering you during your meal."
She was happy to do it. We were all happy. It was a truly humbling experience. As history would note, after our interruption, a few others went up to her as well that day and also got photos with her. I would later find out, to my understanding, that this was not an uncommon experience in the days that El Chavo existed, closed, and then reopened for a bit as Dolly had filmed a Variety show not far from there according to the LA Times circa 2016. This was, and is, just a little bit of the magic and grace that this "randomly spotted celebrity" regularly bestows to her fans.
Today my Twitter/Paper.li reminded me of the doll that is Dolly Parton. She's continuing her good nature and kindness to others by donating books to children through her Imagination Library Project. These books are free to children in a variety of locales with income barriers or not being something that does not apply.
For this memory and for the memory of the many many many others who are fortunate enough to encounter the lady Dolly Parton, this dual city wielding redhead salutes you. Thank you so much for taking your time away from you to let some of us bother you with requests and interruptions... and interrupting your life regularly to give a little imagination and story back to the world.
If you're in Tennessee or North Carolina and you'd like to audition for her show Dollywood this year for 2018, you've still got a chance! (Sorry but you missed it if you were in Alabama by a few days because theirs was on the 9th of January). The audition in Tennesse is in Pidgeon Forge, Tennesse on January 20th at Dollywood. The audition for North Carolina is in Spartanburg, North Carolina on January 27th at the Chapman Cultural Center. You can find out more about the audition schedule times, registration, and where exactly to go on her website.
Yes her boobs really *are* that big. Please don't hate me for saying that. kkbai!