from the vault: someone in tennessee loves me

Digging into the vault is fun.

When I was in my very early 20s, this girl who I dated and I played this celebrity lookalike game.

Whenever we saw someone who looked like a celebrity, one of us would say, "Hey, there's Nell Carter" or "Don't look now, but Kirk Cameron is shopping in Target."

One day, we were eating lunch at this Hamburger Hamlet in West Hollywood, on the extreme West end of the Sunset Strip. I looked up from my lunch to see this totally goofy looking guy, with a stupid mullet, parachute-y muscle pants, and a corduroy hat that had "Someone in Tennessee Loves Me" embroidered on the front.

"Hey," I said, "There's Chuck Norris wearing a 'Someone in Tennessee Loves Me' cap."

We cracked up and complimented each other on our insightful wit.

A few minutes later, a manager walked over to that guy's table holding a phone on a long cord, like you'd see in the old 1940s movies.

"Mr. Norris," he said, "Mr. Washington is calling from Knoxville."

45 thoughts on “from the vault: someone in tennessee loves me”

  1. Guns don’t kill people, Chuck Norris Kills people.
    Chuck Norris once ate a ream of rice paper and regurgitated an army of origami swans.
    I could do this all day…and have.

  2. We were at Fudruckers in Pasadena a while back where I saw a celebrity. I sat down at my table and said to my family “I just saw Jay Leno sitting out on the patio.” We all looked out but decided to leave him alone and respect his privacy. Unfortunately, stupid me for not being discrete, spoke loud enough for others to hear. He was very quickly approached by other people and promptly left the restaurant. I always felt really bad about that.

  3. I once went to a very nice restaurant and Oscar Robinson and Bob Huggins were at the table next to me. I didn’t realize this until we left. I will now wait while those who are not college basketball fans Google my celebrity sighting.

  4. Ha, that’s a good story. Here’s mine. I was at the Grand Canyon in their overpriced bookshop, it was crowded and a couple of little kids kept bumping into me. I have nothing against little ones so I just smiled then looked up to the parent to assure them I was okay. It was Emilio Estevez! Then I became very aware of how few people were around us.
    Looking over I saw one whole side of the gift shop was poised against the other wall, cameras ready, waiting for me to move. I looked back at him and said, “there’s a door behind you if you wanna make a run for it.” He did.
    I was not popular in the store.

  5. Sadly, I cannot find Chuck Norris singing the theme song to his Texas Rangers television show available on itunes.

  6. I was working in a bookstore in Atlanta helping Markie Post (Night Court) find some books and this other employee came up and said to her, “You know, you look JUST like Markie Post!” She rolled her eyes and left. Dumbass.

  7. I was in graduate school in Indiana from 1995-2001, so this happened sometime in there.
    Went to the Indianapolis airport to fly to Virginia where I was doing research. I ended up behind Larry Bird in the security line. I’m not a basketball fan, but he’s pretty distinct and very very tall. We ended up in separate screening lines.
    After picking up my stuff and heading down the hallway toward the gates, I ended up walking about 20 feet behind him. It was really weird to constantly hear people saying “Did you see that? That was Larry Bird!”. “I think that was Larry Bird!”.

  8. I lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex for many years. I also practiced and taught martial arts for many years.
    While I was a bit too old for it, several of the students at my martial arts school were on Walker, Texas Ranger as extras. See, they’d put out these calls for extras where what they wanted was kids of certain ages (usually twelve or so) carrying high rank-brown, red, and black belts. Then they’d dress them as green and blue belts on the show as the students in the dojo scenes.
    I can’t recall any of those kids saying a bad word about Mr. Norris, and when I met him, he was nice to me, too.
    He’s a pretty class act from my experience, and as my instructor used to say, he’s the only major martial arts movie star who actually carried a championship. (And not just one, either.) So, you’re allowed to wear a silly hat if you’re Chuck Norris. Great story, Wil.

  9. During last year’s PAX, I was having breakfast in a local restaurant when I realized Jonathan Coulton was sitting down at the table across from me. I thought about saying hi, or just waiving, but his daughter was with him. I just don’t like butting into peoples personal lives…

  10. Kevin smith had a cool story about meeting Robert Downey Jr at Comic con…I met Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams…I was working at Limited Too – a kids store, and He came in on Valentines Day. He spent over 600$ and is much cuter in person…so I guess he was my Valentine that year!

  11. My most embarrassing moment with a celebrity was when I was working in the store Hold Everything, back in ’91 or so. I had a guy walk in with a HUGE bag of VHS movies. I answered questions about some of our products, and he ended up buying a remote control organizer. As I was ringing him up, I was chit-chatting with him and commenting on all the movies he had and how he must be a movie lover. He responded that he was writing a screenplay and the movies were for his research. Naive as I was, I started blabbing about how I had some friends who were trying to be screenwriters, how hard it was to make it in The Business, and I wished him lots of luck on his screenplay. Then he handed me his credit card. It was Wes Craven. As my face turned a deep crimson color, I think I muttered something like, “Well…guess you don’t really need my luck.” He was amused.
    (I’m not 100% sure, but I think I remember seeing some horror movie titles in the stash o’ videos he had, so I’m thinking the screenplay for which he was doing research was “Scream”)

  12. They tried to market Chuck Norris toilet paper but Chuck Norris doesn’t take shit from anyone.
    Chuck Norris is the only man that can slam a revolving door :o)

  13. “There’s Whil Wheaton in a Three cat Moon shirt.” – Someone someday soon.
    Chuck Norris’s tears cure cancer, too bad he’s never cried.

  14. I play that game all the time with my friends – only caught two real celebrities with it: Gallagher while walking on the Vegas strip, and David Crosby at a Paul McCartney concert.

  15. I think that is my favorite comment too.
    My best Chuck Norris story is the time I went into a Wal-Mart deep in Texas hill country to buy season one of Lost. They were keeping all of their DVD box sets in the back to prevent theft and one of the clerks disappear for about 15 minutes looking for it. He returned with an apology since they seemed to be out of stock… but he was not empty handed. He thrust the box towards me and said:
    “I did find Texas Walker Ranger season one. That is a pretty good show. Would you like to buy that?”
    I don’t know how well the humor of the situation carries over into writing, but it was one of the strangest retail experiences of my life.

  16. Tee hee, this reminds me of #lameclaimtofame from yesterday.
    These stories are the best. Mine involved tripping on Mel Gibson’s feet and landing in Kiefer Sutherland’s lap many moons ago while Mel was shooting Bird On A Wire. Long story short, my class was taking a transit bus back to school after a field trip. I was sitting beside Kiefer and Mel. I kept looking at them and thinking “Is that them? No, it can’t be.” Only for me to turn away and then look at them again, shake my head cause I found my self staring, repeat, repeat, repeat. When I got up to get off the bus, I tripped over Mel’s feet and landing in Kiefer’s lap. Getting off the bus, my classmates were totally freaking out and saying, “Do you realize whom you were sitting beside? Do you realize whom you just fell on?” I was so embarrassed.
    It is a good thing I probably will never see them again because I would become extremely stupid. They probably do not remember but because it is so vivid for me, I wouldn’t be able to look them in the eye.

  17. first time poster, long time listener
    I had a really similar experience on michigan avenue in chicago right by where i work. my friends and I were on our way back from lunch and i saw a guy in a 57ish ford convertable with corn rows, so of course i made a lame R kelly comment and some kinds of urination joke “hey everyone look ,it’s R kelly” well it was him he was driving around shooting for some video… he looked right at us and said nothing. i gulped air hoping he didn’t hear me say ” i want to p1$$ on you” dave chappelle stylee…
    as usual with me, open mouth, insert foot.
    of course if i saw Wil on the street i would prolly ac the same goofy way or keep saying “wil w-Heaton” over and over again…

  18. Funny but true story. One day at my day job working for a grocery store, a new co-worker was commenting on one of your books I was reading in the Break room “Happiest Days of Our Lives”. She said “Ah Wil Wheaton,isn’t he someone famous?”
    My comment “Yes he was in Stand By Me and ST TNG”
    Her comment: Sigh, I wish I could meet someone famous like him.
    My comment: Err you do realize you bagged his order this afternoon?

  19. Hahahaha! This story always cracks me up. Just for the sheer randomness of spotting what you think is a person who looks like a famous person only to find out it’s really them. I’ve had quite a few of those, myself, only less “WTF?” because a guy with a long phone cord never appeared in any of my celebrity sightings/encounters.
    As far as famous people that I personally find cool, the most surreal meeting for me was when I literally bumped into Glenn Danzig outside of the TLA when I was a teenager. My friends and me sparked up a joint in the alley/side entrance to the club, and when we were finished, I turned around to get back in line and *boom* I walked right into Glenn Danzig. Before I realized who I just walked into, I started to say “I’m so sorry…” and once I realized who it was, I lost the ability to speak. I just stood there for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only about 10 seconds, until he finally just said “Hey. I hope you enjoy the show.” I just stood there in awe and didn’t say a word. Then he shook my hand and walked into the side entrance. To this day all I keep thinking about in regards to that meeting is “Why the hell did I smoke that stupid joint? That was Glenn freaking Danzig and I just stood there like an idiot!” Lesson learned. Weed is bad, Mmkay?
    Then there’s the time I met Seth Green. He’s from Philly, and I was completely aware of that fact at the time but my friend and me were drunk out of our minds, stumbling out of a concert when we spotted him. I looked at her and said, “Hey, that guy over there looks just like Seth Green!” She looked at me and asked “Who the fuck is Seth Green?” Knowing that she’s not a geek/fangirl that would know him as Oz on Buffy, I opted with Austin Powers, instead. “You know, Seth Green, the guy who plays Scott Evil.” She looks at him again and says “Yeah, he DOES look like him, doesn’t he?” Then she starts yelling “Yo, Scott! Scott Evil!” and we’re just laughing our asses off. The next thing we knew, he stopped, turned around towards us and said something along the lines of “Actually, it’s Seth. Seth Green.” He was really cool about the whole thing. Super nice guy. Funny as hell, too. I probably would have geeked out more if it wasn’t for the fact that I was completely hammered, but my nephews think I’m so cool because of that encounter, as teenage boys, they worship the ground he walks on. Robot Chicken, FTW!
    Biggest dumb-ass moment out of all of them was when I met James Gandolfini when I briefly worked as a clerk in a convenience store. While I was ringing him up, I actually asked him “Has anyone ever told you how much you look like that guy who plays Tony Soprano?” which he responded with “Yeah, I get that a lot.” After he left, one of the girls I worked with was laughing so hard that I thought she was about to fall on the floor and start rolling around, so I asked her “What’s so funny?” to which she responded “He really is the guy who plays Tony Soprano. He stops in here all the time.”
    Yes, even outside of Hollyweird, famous people do occasionally roam the streets of other cities/towns. Still waiting for a guy with a circa 1940′s phone with an excessively long cord though…

  20. “Hey, Washington. What? You’ve got Raymond Burr in a Hawaiian shirt? Well, I’ve got Wil Wheaton in a goofy clown sweater.”
    Yes. This is both my favorite and the funniest comment on the page. Literally LOLing!!!

  21. Good thing I didn’t tell the full story then…
    On another note, Wil thank you for providing me with a huge laugh today. You have beat Chuck Norris.
    It all started with this tweet from you:
    @wilw “Anne: Dude! Look at that billboard of Tom Jones! Me (Tom Jones Voice): “I’m an old man, but I’ll still eat your panties for breakfast.”"
    To which this conversation occurred that I just had to tweet:
    Kid2 (reading over my shoulder): Why is @wilw eating panties for breakfast? Me: Because he can.
    and the following:
    Oh hi there @wilw ‘s pre-reading performance anxiety! Leave him alone cause @wilw eats panties for breakfast and he can so kick your ass!
    So Chuck Norris may be Mr. Tough Guy, but you totally rule him as you eat panties for breakfast.

  22. I moved to LA around five years ago and always wanted to have my ‘brush with greatness’.
    So I was waiting for an elevator in an office building in Beverly Hills and I was staring at the floor thinking. Guy walks up, motorcycle boots, black jeans, big beefy forearms, lots of gold…all I can think is “great, a Stallone wannabe”…except that when I looked up, it actually WAS Stallone! I’m sure I was grinning like a goof because I was trying not to laugh at myself. :)

  23. My “dick” moment happened fairly recently while commenting on you tube. someone asked me what game it was based on and i replied…world of warcraft and dungeons and dragons, which was embarrassing enough in itself. To which I got a reply from a guy inviting me to “Get off my internet” now usually i dont react, but i did and well long story short i came off looking like a real prick. Yeah, wont be commenting on there for a very long time.

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