It was a frosty February night.
With my notebook and mini recorder tucked firmly under my arm, I walk with young, foolish confidence towards the entrance.
I am about to meet a Ghostbuster. A Blues Brother. A Conehead. Someone who has played against The Great Bill Murray.
I walk through the sliding doors thinking, Cool.
The display table with his bevy of not-that-fine wines spread out for all to see is without an occupant.
A short line of “fans” are lined up in front of it, their copies of The Blues Brothers on DVD clutched firmly in-hand. I don’t recall anyone holding a bottle of his wine to sign. Probably because from what I can recall, it tastes like crap.
The people in the line-up have excited, giddy smiles on their faces. They, too, were probably thinking, Cool – a Blues Brother. A Ghostbuster. A Conehead. He knows Bill Murray.
A fellow reporter from another newspaper – a friend of mine – is here too, waiting to talk to the Conehead. Her newspaper has a photographer – a great photographer. My newspaper hasn’t sent a photographer with me. It’s just me and my Canon Powershot, goin’ it alone.
My friend and I chat for a minute, with the same giddy grins that everyone in the line-up is sporting.
And then, finally – he emerges. He emerges from the cooler. Really – the cooler door opened, and out he came. From the look of his hair, it appears that he has just rolled out of bed, or jumped off a helicopter – one or the other. It does look like he has a pillow crease on his cheek, so maybe it was the former.
He gives the crowd a gruff wave. His brow furrowed as usual, he snorts and plunks his sizable ass down in the chair. He sets straight to work signing a few bottles and snatching Blues Brothers DVDs from people’s hands.
As each person approaches him, he makes numerous attempts to talk about the wines - the kinds of grapes they come from, the way they’re grown, the people who work at his wineries…
Yeah, yeah, just sign my Blues Brothers t-shirts, ya Conehead. – is probably what almost every person in this line-up is thinking.
“You go ahead,” says my friend. “We wanna get some shots first anyway,” as her photographer crouches, stretches, sweeps his body gracefully from side to side in order to capture as many different angles as he needs to get that wonderful, graceful, arresting shot that he always manages to nab.
“OK, thanks,” I step up to the table.
“Hi Mr. Aykroyd, I’m Heidi Wicks, I’m here with The (insert-name-of-paper-here).” I extend my hand. He doesn’t look up from signing things and he most certainly doesn’t shake my hand.
“So…tell me about your wines, how did you get into this?”
Blahblahblahblah, hurry up and answer so I can ask you about the next Ghostbusters sequel and whether Bill Murray will still be in it.
The photographer chips away at his art, stroking his canvas with the sweeps of his steps and the snaps of his shutter.
Suddenly, Mr. Not-Bill-Murray shoves his chair and his sizeable ass backwards - hard enough so that the chair falls over - points his long, gangly finger at the photographer, and says, “Alright that’s enough, get this guy outta here!”
His towering, intimidating height hovers over me and his great, flaring nostrils blow a smelly, hot breeze down upon me. That famous indent between his famous eyebrows is now way deeper than his pillow crease.
My friend and I look at each other with wide, bewildered eyes.
What the fuck?
“He’s obviously tabloid!” the celebrity roars. “This guy is unbelievable!”
My jaw drops and so does my friend’s, and the poor photographer is grabbed by the scruff of his jacket and practically dragged out of the liquor store.
My friend follows behind and waves a quick goodbye my way.
“That guy was way outta line,” for the first time he kinda-sorta looks at me. Plunks his wide load back into the chair as someone scurries to pick it up before he falls onto the floor.
Shoulda just left it there.
I clear my throat. If I ask about the Ghostbusters sequel now, I might get dragged out too!
“Sooo…have you been to Newfoundland before?” I wimp out.
I now feel very awkward asking this man if I can take a photo of him.
“Do you…mind if I take your photo?” I cringe. My meagre 5’5” frame cannot withstand a blow from this crazy man’s bear-paw of a hand. I have seen how he wrestled that Grizzly in The Great Outdoors.
He looks up, gruff and grump, nods his head.
“Go ahead.” He smiles for the camera and the smile looks pissed off.
“Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Aykroyd, I really appreciate it. It was a pleasure meeting you! Enjoy the rest of your stay here!”
He slams his arm outwards and looks me in the eye, smiles nice and big.
Oh NOW you wanna shake my hand.
Naturally, he has one of those ridiculous, obnoxious hand shakes that feels like your knuckles are folding in like an accordion and will crunch apart at any moment. My hand was throbbing when he let go.
I turn around to leave, pissed that I didn’t have the balls to ask about that Ghostbusters sequel. On the other hand, I can’t wait to talk to my friend. The giddy smile returns.