Wednesday, October 8, 2013
As I stood in front of a restaurant in midtown in the heart of Times Square and the theater district, I watched the crowds. Tourists from all parts of the world, folks in town for business squeezing in dinner before a Broadway show, and locals cutting through on their way home or to the train or subway.
It was about 6:45 pm, and the sun was setting. I glanced up the street, east, searching the crowd coming toward me for the faces of two dear friends meeting me for dinner.
I saw neither of them as I glanced east on 43rd street. But I did see a man in a silver blazer, and grey slacks walking with an entourage headed my way. When you grow up here, you just note things that seem a little different and let it digest in your brain to then categorize it as well, potential danger, just plain weird. Hmm, a little odd I thought, silver blazer…
But as the image filtered through my brain it began to register as familiar, and I looked again. The man, about 60, was struggling to walk a bit from what appeared to be an injury of some kind. But I knew the curly hair and the cherub face was none other than Richard Simmons. If you don’t know Richard from his popular 1980s exercise program, Sweating to the Oldies, or as a guest on the Howard Stern show then stop reading and Google him.
I grew up in the 80s and think of Richard as always wearing those star-spangled sateen shorts, jumping around, very energetic and maybe shedding a tear in a dramatic way to emphasize his passion for helping people struggling with weight loss.
As Richard walked closer toward me and my brain registered who he was I couldn’t help myself but to smile and say hello. He stopped too and said in his most enthusiastic Richard Simmons voice, ” You are beautiful!” To which I replied, Oh you are so sweet to thank you! Richard smiled and continued on his way. Got a few steps, stopped beyond me and a turned around and said, “You are so beautiful, inside and out!”
Now at my age, fighting the good fight to keep it all together in the looks department, I will gladly take a kind word any day of the week. But what struck me was that the comment, the second comment, was so consistent with the Richard Simmons personal brand he has built over all these years. A man known for trying to make people, in particular women, feel good about their bodies no matter what shape they are in and giving them hope and a kind word.
A random encounter, a kind word from a not so stranger, dinner with dear friends. It was a wonderful night in New York.
As I texted my husband to share my encounter with him, his reply was, ” How does he know about your insides?”