Around my mid-20s I made a resolution to not be “star struck.” I’m the type of guy who finds it rather silly to stand in line to get an autograph from…well…anyone. Occasionally I’ll see ads in the newspaper saying how Minnesota Vikings All-Pro center Matt Birk will be signing autographs this Saturday at some car dealership. My thought is I’m seven years older than Birk. The perspective I have is while I was a senior in high school, Birk was some snot-nosed 5th grader with coke bottle glasses.
However, in the past 12 years I have allowed one exception to my self-imposed “star struck” rule.
It was 1996 when blonde bombshell Mindy McCready burst onto the country music scene as a 20-year old. She immediately hit the top of the country charts with hit songs such as “Ten Thousand Angels” and “Guys Do It All The Time.” While I enjoyed the music, I admittedly became smitten with young Mindy.
One evening, in May of 1998, I was on my way home from work when I heard she would be at the Mall of America. Local country station K102 was sponsoring the appearance. I quickly got home, changed into a nice shirt and slacks, splashed on extra after shave and grabbed my Ten Thousand Angels CD.
Upon entering the mall, I saw what appeared to be a mile-long line. In line in front of me was a woman and her ten year old daughter. In making small talk, I asked the young girl if she had been a fan for long. She said she had been for about two years. I then asked if she was excited to get an autograph. She enthusiastically nodded yes. The girl’s mom then asked me if I was a big fan. I said “Not only am I a big fan of her work but I’m thinking of proposing marriage!” By this time, the horrified mother had whisked away her daughter as if I had just sprouted horns and a tail. As I soon learned, I was in line to meet Tara Lipinski, the 15-year old figure skater who had won gold at the recent Olympics. Whoops!!
Thankfully, Mindy’s line was much shorter. I was thinking of the perfect pick-up line as I came ever closer to the woman of my dreams. My self image was strong enough at the time where I believed I could have swept her off her feet. (Oh you go ahead and laugh. But answer me this. Do the names Chris Henchy and Dan Moder ring a bell? No? Today, you know them better as Mr. Brooke Shields and Mr. Julia Roberts, respectively.).
Finally, it was my turn!! As I approached Mindy, I said “This has been a long time in coming!! I’ve been waiting two years to meet you!!” She replied, “Well, thank you. Do you have something you want me to sign?” As I handed her the CD, her hand brushed mine! As she was autographing the liner (see said liner below), I boldly told her how we were made for each other and that we even come from similar backgrounds (She too grew up in a single parent household). She then looked up, gave me a great big hug and said “You’re so sweet! But I’m spoken for.” Dejected, I learned she was engaged to actor Dean Cain, who played Superman in the 90s TV series "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman"
I tell that light-hearted tale because I’d prefer to remember Mindy as the young, free-spirit who seemed to have it all. Sadly, her life has been in a downward spiral over the past few years. From addictions to painkillers to abusive relationships to a suicide attempt while pregnant, it appears Mindy McCready had too much too soon.
As it turns out, Mindy did me the greatest favor by turning me down (Like I even had a shot!). I would meet my wife-to-be just two months after that playful exchange with Mindy.
And in a stark contrast to Mindy McCready, my life has only gotten better each and every year since.