It May Sound Fishy, but…I might once have met
Sam Malone, from Cheers!
We went to Martha’s Vineyard, near Boston, USA. They let us buy a coach trip to the island, home of many stars and celebrities. They didn’t say that we would not be allowed to leave the bus: we found that out later. The people of that island didn’t want to meet us, which was a blow. I’m not saying the coach was locked, but the driver was jangling the keys.
We were picked up at the ferry and dropped back, right on time. There was one short stop, at an out of the way café, but otherwise the bus doors remained closed.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s words came to mind: ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ I’ll go for that!
We saw the gates of some famous people – the homes were way back up leafy lanes and completely out of sight. I heard Ted Danson mentioned. I perked up; we’d laughed so often watching Cheers on TV! (We didn’t get to see his place, either.)
Once liberated from our outing, we took the ferry back to Rhode Island, nearest land to the clannish vineyard, and went back to our timeshare to recuperate.
Next day we huddled in a fine mist on an almost deserted beach. We watched a couple of men replete with rod and line, catch… sod all! My husband went exploring. He was soon back.
‘A man down there is catching so many fish he can’t reel them in fast enough.’ He grinned. ‘Do you want to take a look? I think it’s Ted Danson.’ I was off like a bat out of hell.
How was I to be sure? I craned for a better look. The man had his back towards me, but he did have a couple of glamorous girls with him. On closer inspection they seemed more like daughters than groupies, so this might be just a family man. As I wondered which way this cookie might crumble, he turned and caught me watching him.
‘Excuse me,’ I stammered. ‘I was wondering how you do it, the fishing, I mean. There are men up the beach who can’t get a bite.’
‘Sam Malone’ turned away. He had two big fishing chairs anchored on the sand, each with a long rod attached: one of the rods was quivering. I stayed and watched.
He turned back. ‘Give me a hand?’
Those girls weren’t helping, so I went down.
‘Take the other line, and yell if you feel it twitch.’ He was masterful.
There was no time to wonder whether he pulled pints up the road in Boston. He fitted me into the chair. I grabbed the rod, leaned back, and said: ‘it’s twitching.’
‘I told you,’ he said: ‘to yell WHEN it’s twitching!’
‘It is twitching,’ I yelled. ‘Right now – it’s TWITCHING!!!
He got the message. We started the winding in. On his line he soon had another big blue specimen to add to his bag, while on mine I was looking at the biggest fish I’ve ever seen in my life.
‘What is it?’ I gasped.
‘King mackerel,’ he said.
It was not like any mackerel I’d ever seen; this was more like a Blue Whale! It was beautiful with an iridescent sheen of green and blue along its sides and a silvery underbelly.
‘Do you want it?’ he asked.
‘No thank you.’ I thought of the fridge at our self-catering unit. ‘Can my husband take a picture?’
He turned, to see my man looking sheepish in the background. ‘Come on down,’ he called.
He wasn’t exactly chatty, but he was friendly. But was he Ted Danson? Right age, not so much hair, but then… (didn’t Sam Malone wear a wig?)
‘What is your name?’ I was dying to ask, but the words I needed wouldn’t come – it wasn’t polite!
‘How do you catch the fish?’ I asked instead.
‘I do it right,’ he said; showing all the humility one would expect from the manager of that Boston bar.
And so I got my picture taken with a fish half my size, and a lot better looking. Ted got to eat the fish and think of me. Oh sure! It was never ascertained if he was – or was not, for that matter – Ted Danson!
We went back to jolly old England.
As this was back when you got film developed, we consigned it to the dark room at BOOTS the chemist, and waited impatiently. The picture was a beauty, and I sent our print to American friends. New Yorkers.
‘That don’t look like him to me,’ they opined – and kept the picture!
All these years later I’ve remembered it. I don’t have the negative; that went in the bin when I was downsizing, years ago. Maybe the New Yorkers still have it – if only I could find them!
I don’t know if I met Ted Danson. I think I did. I should have asked those girls. He was bossy enough to be Sam Malone of Cheers. He was not snooty enough to have had much to do with Martha’s Vineyard.
Whoever he was, he was kind. He gave me something to remember always – a glorious keepsake for when I’m buying small dull mackerel from a dreary store!
LaLa Land by Malabar Cash is an ebook for Kindle: available on Amazon. Enjoy!