Monday, May 04, 2015

'Extraordinary' is in the eye of the beholder

I’ve been watching YouTube videos of personal appearances by Stephen King and it occurred to me that “extraordinary,” like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. 
It seems to me Stephen King is pretty ordinary when I watch him in front of an audience on YouTube. He seems down to earth, the kind of guy you might find living next to you, maybe drinking a beer in his driveway.  
I have found that to be true of other “celebrities” I have met.  
One night Mitch Miller brought his music to my college campus.  
Mitch Miller, if you are less than 100 years old, had a weekly TV show. He didn’t come to town to attract a college crowd but to do a show for the older people in the community.  
My grandparents watched him on TV every week so I decided to get his autograph for my grandmother.  
I have never been shy when I wanted to talk to someone and when I found out what room backstage he was in before the show began, I went barreling right in … and caught him getting dressed with his pants down around his knees.  
I went ahead and asked for his autograph and he wrote a nice note to my grandmother. 
Nice guy.  
On another occasion, a former Miss America, Vonda Kay VanDyke, came to our campus.  
I received permission to interview her for our college radio station, to the envy of my friends who were all healthy young men.  
She dodged many of my questions. 
“Tell me about your family. Do you have a husband and kids?”
“Well, Miss America can’t be married,” she said. 
She came across in person as really nice, even though it takes an extraordinary woman to win the Miss America title.  
In case you’re wondering, I interviewed her in the living room of our college president and unlike Mitch Miller, she was fully attired.  
Bobby Goldsboro (“Watching Scotty Grow” was one of his hits) sang at the county fair and again the interview went well but he didn’t appear to be extraordinary.  
In his speeches, King tells of some of the more interesting encounters with his fans. 
One person asked him, “I’ve seen you somewhere. Are you somebody?” 
King replied, “Everyone is somebody.”  
He ran into a woman in a Publix supermarket, which is a popular chain grocery store in Florida.  
She expressed her displeasure with the literature he writes.  
“I prefer The Shawshank Redemption,” she said.  
“I wrote that.”  
“No you didn’t!” she insisted.  
I certainly consider Stephen King an extraordinary writer.  
I stayed up all night until I finished reading “Cujo.” I cannot get that story out of my head.  
Same with “The Shawshank Redemption” and other books.  
I know many, many other people also consider him an extraordinary writer but some people just do not. 
“Extraordinary” is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder.  

Frank Phillips is a reporter for The Brazil Times.