#15. I met Bill Murray (New Orleans, 2008)


Bill Murray and a tuba.

My girlfriend and I were hired to take down a big art show on the top floor of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, re-paint the room in a fresh coat of white, then hang the new exhibit. As we worked, our top-floor rooms remained roped off.

We sometimes rode the elevator to the top floor, but more often I climbed all the stairs two at a time, because I still can, and some day won’t be able to. One day after returning from our lunch break, as I bound up several flights of stairs, I stopped and studied a new giant painting they’d mounted on the second floor. The placard listed the painting’s title, the artist, and also, ‘From the private collection of Bill Murray…’ Oh shit! I thought, but then wrote it off as a coincidence; it’s a pretty plain-ass name. There are at least nine William Murrays listed in the phone book in Metairie alone.

As my girlfriend and I continued up to the messy top floor, we immediately noticed some jerk-off in a grey suit with white hair had traversed the ropes, and was standing there staring at a piece of art in our half-painted room. Before we could scold the guy, he looked over at us, unsmiling, and we locked eyes with Bill Murray his motherfuckin self.

Now, the world loves the dude, and shares story-upon-story about what a fun, friendly guy he is. You’ll notice though, that all of those stories involve him choosing for himself when to be friendly. Any real fan knows that he is also famous for being an unabashed dick to people who run up on him and demand interaction. He is not shy with the fuck offs.

A fan of his since the early 80s, I gasped, said merely “OH! HI!” He barely grunted hello back as we bolted out and down the hall. In hindsight, I was entitled to be there and wish I’d stayed to see what he’d do. But my first instinct was to respect his privacy. I could not stand the thought of Bill Murray telling me to fuck off.

Murray soon wandered out and down the stairs — stopping first to study the giant painting he’d donated. From our hiding spot, we watched the top of his balding head as he descended to the first floor and exited out the front door.

I felt so gypped, not having interacted with him, that I ran to a small, third-floor window, and watched him walk outside to meet two other people. As he stood outside the museum talking to them, I let myself shamelessly stare down at him, unblinking, soaking in his greatness for at least five whole weird minutes.

Michael Patrick Welch’s “132 Famous People I Have Met” series is FREE, but please consider donating to his VENMO (michael-welch-42), or to his PayPal account (paypal.me/michaelpatrickwelch2), so he can feed his kids, pay his mortgage, etc.

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