My Encounter With Stephen King

Meeting Stephen King

You can sense my wife’s envy…

Like most of the rest of the human population of Planet Earth, I’ve read books written by Stephen King. Not all, but quite a few. My personal favorite was The Stand, although under the influence of mild mood swings I could probably point to half a dozen others and say they’re my favorites. But did I ever expect to actually meet him, even though we live here in Sarasota, less than three miles as the crow flies from his house on Casey Key? Well, nope. Sure didn’t. But I did.

Of course, things like this usually happen in the most unlikely places. Here I was bumbling around in our local grocery store, gathering up a few things my wife sent me to retrieve, when I spied this gent over at the meat counter. He was wearing glasses and was dressed in rather baggy jeans, a T-shirt that had “Bangor Maine” on it, and a ball cap. I didn’t think much about it, but as I wandered over to the dairy section, I kept thinking, “Gee, that guy looks really familiar.”

As he passed by, heading toward the produce section, I took another gander. I knew I’d seen that face before. My spidey-sense was tingling.

Whipping out my iPhone, I searched for recent images of Stephen King. You have to keep in mind that the last photo I’d seen of him was probably on the back jacket of one of the hardcovers of his that I bought twenty years ago, and I was thrown off a bit because he was tall, a lot taller than I would have expected, and pretty thin, too (hopefully not the work of an angry gypsy).

The pictures didn’t exactly clinch it, but they were close enough that I figured, what the heck. The worst that could happen would be he wouldn’t be who I thought he was. So, as he was loading his stuff onto the belt in the checkout line, I leaned in and said, “Excuse me, sir, but you look a heck of a lot like Stephen King.”

He looked up at me and smiled. “Well, that’s because I am Stephen King.” I put out my paw, he shook it, and I let him get back to his life.

Did I tell him who I was, or ask for a photo with him? Nope. While I’m sure he probably would have made pleasant noises regarding the former and happily agreed to the latter, I didn’t want to intrude on him any more than absolutely necessary. It was enough to see him in the flesh and shake his hand.

So, what’s your favorite celebrity encounter story?

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31 thoughts on “My Encounter With Stephen King

  • Anne Garland

    On set of “Once A Thief” at the Alliance Studio in TO where I was introduced to Ivan Sergei,Sandrine Holt,Nicholas Lea and also the director (on that day) David Wu, such a lovely person.

  • Derek Hawkins

    Was in Barnes & Noble in Metairie, LA (Suburb in Metro New Orleans) once, minding my own business, browsing the shelves, when I heard a distinct voice. I looked up, and saw a man in a denim jacket walking toward the front of the store. He glanced in my direction, we locked eyes for like 1/10th of a second. I smiled and nodded – it was John Goodman.

  • Jim McAllister

    My 4 celeb encounters;
    1. 1980 Hamilton Bermuda, on our honeymoon my wife and I had seen Frankie Avalon the evening before. We ran out of film (remember that stuff?) and were walking the strip at 6PM looking for an open shop. The ONLY other people out was a tall and short pair of fellows walking towards us. The short one was Frankie Avalon! I told him we enjoyed his show, he gave us a sincere thank you, I shook his hand, and we moved on. twenty paces later my bride said, “I can’t believe you shook his hand!” I replied, “Why didn’t you ask for an autograph?” She said, “I couldn’t talk!”
    2. 2003 New Orleans Emeril’s Delmonico Having dinner with friends after a trade convention, one returns from the restroom to tell us Sting was at the urinal next to him, and is sitting behind us!
    3. Syracuse 1990s Carl Sagan was in the hospital I worked at, and I had the chance to speak with him briefly.
    4. 2005 Another trade convention, this time in Clearwater Florida; Hulk Hogan eating dinner at the table next to us.

  • Toni

    When I was six years old I was at a 7-11 in my tiny town and River Phoenix stopped in. He was filming Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at the time not too far away. I was sitting on the curb while my mom was in the store. I saw him walk in and I remember thinking, “That was Chris Chambers!” (from Stand By Me) and I was so excited to tell my mom. She was inside talking to someone so I didn’t run in to interrupt. I was waiting for her to be done and he walked back outside.
    “Excuse me. Are you Chris Chambers?” I asked.
    “I was once. My name is River.”
    “My name is Toni.” I said and I smiled.
    “Nice to meet you. Stay cool kid,” he said and he tossed me a tootsie pop.

    He got in a car and drove away. Looking back on it now I wish I would have just kept that tootsie pop in my pocket or something, but I started to eat it and then my mom came out of the store and took it away. She asked where I got it and I said, “River gave it to me, mom.” She had no idea what I was talking about and she threw the sucker away and reminded me not to take candy from strangers. She didn’t believe my story until someone told her that they heard that River Phoenix had been in town over that weekend. I think she regretted throwing away that sucker.

  • simon williams

    My celebrity story is from the other side. Back in a different life I was a TV weather man. On a drunken night out with my former father-in-law I autographed the thigh of a lady who was old enough to be my Grandma, not just old enough to be my Mum! I’m sure she got a kick out if it though. Ah, the thrills of youth.

  • Stephanie

    Probably the strangest meeting I’ve had, was on a flight to my grandmother’s funeral. While booking, I called my dad to tell him how much my sister’s ticket would be. He agreed, but when I tried to pay, I found out that the flight had sold out while I was on the phone, so I had to grab the next flight. On the way to the airport we stopped at the market to grab some snacks, and I snagged the newest book in a series I had started (it was Eldest, by Christopher Paolini) as I didn’t have a book to read, and wasn’t about to make a six hour flight without one! When my sister and I boarded the flight, there were only two seats left, both middle seats on either side in the back row. I asked both aisle people if either of them would mind having a middle seat so I could sit next to my sister, and they both politely refused. Shrugging it off (and mildly annoyed), I took the middle left seat, my sister grabbed the middle left, and off we went. After I got everything put away I pulled out my copy of Eldest and settling in to start reading. I heard the lady on the aisle seat say “Christopher…” and saw her point at my book. Closing the book in slight disbelief, I checked the cover to see the first name of the author (I only knew his last name). Yup, same first name. I look to my right, and there sitting next to me is the author of the book himself. Needless to say, I didn’t get much reading done! We chatted about our favorite books, I asked him a few questions I’d had about his series, he showed me some maps he was working on for a potential future story, and all in all we both (I hope) had a very enjoyable flight. When we got to my aunt’s, I told my father (Mr. TALL TALES himself) what had transpired. He didn’t believe me, of course, until I pulled out my book and showed him the signature (which I didn’t ask for, it was freely offered). Definitely one flight I will never forget!

  • Hope

    Mickey Mantle & Coach Paul Bear Bryant were both in my city for a charity golf tournament. I had the opportunity to chat with them & they very graciously signed a cocktail napkin. I gave it to my daddy for his birthday. I sure wish I framed it. Daddy put it in his wallet which he lost in the lake along with a good deal of money. He hired divers to look for his wallet. I believe he was more upset about losing that napkin.

  • Joe Schmoe

    Well.. I grew up in California…So I have a Few.
    When I was Fifteen in 1981, I ran away from home and became a teen-aged bank robber. (yeah I know…) Anyway, I was Living in hotels in the Los Angeles area, and flying around the country via LAX inbetween ‘jobs’

    One day…While walking through LAX, Coming towards me was Muhammad Ali. He was wearing a Suit, and was looking larger than life. He was alone, as was I. It was just the two of us alone for a split second in one of the busiest places in Southern California. We locked gazes, as we approached each other. He jabbed at the air in a mock fighting stance, as he came to rest in front of me. I stood there speachless. He tousled my hair, called me ‘champ’ and then we both walked on..going our seperate ways…Me towards the gates….Him towards the street…

    Ten Years Later…..

    Im a waiter at a Chain restaurant….Working my way through college in a southern town. Im the Only Black waiter in the place. My boss says that Mr. Ali will be coming in for Dinner tonight, and I will be waiting on him and his party.

    I have to say I’m Excited. When he arrives, its clear that much has changed in the ten years. He cant speak, He doesnt seem larger than life, I dont get to tell him about our meeting ten years before… the whole thing is Sad and Bittersweet.
    My boss comps their meal… They dont leave a tip..

  • Peter Maloy

    July 2005, around the time Hurricane Dennis blew through town Glo & I were walking the French Quarter in New Orleans on a rainy afternoon. The streets were deserted, but the overhanging balconies made dry if heavily-shadowed shelter. As we walked back to the hotel we saw a limo pull up just ahead of us. A tall lanky bloke got out, dressed head to toe in black, with a broad rimmed hat, bootlace tie with a silver clasp, silver-tipped black cane and winkle-picker boots. As he walked towards us, we saw piercing blue eyes in a thin, drawn face watching us from under the brim of his hat with a sardonic smile. For the briefest moment I thought this was the devil himself, only after we passed him realizing that it was in fact Nicholas Cage.

  • Traveler

    In 2010 I sat next to Russell Crowe at a Rabbitohs game.

    Also in 2008 I became a celebrity of sorts in southern China. I hosted an educational TV program and was constantly approached for photos, fist-bumps and the occasional beer.

  • Cheri Schultz

    When I was finishing up my first novel “Moondog” I went to see Carole Nelson Douglas, author of the Midnight Louie romance mystery series, of which I am a fan. ( She was signing books at a Meyer grocery store in Indianapolis where I was living at the time. I purchased a signed copy of her novel, she gave me a free Midnight Louie T-shirt, and since no other fans were around, she chatted to me for a while on the options for new authors, namely self-publishing! I followed her advise.

  • Desmond Glebe

    Loving the aliens… the day I met Captain Kirk

    Only a few more weeks to go and I would be among my own people.

    That was the mantra with which I soothed myself during the inane meetings (see previous post) and maddening memos – the trials and tribulations of corporate insanity – when it all simply became too much to tolerate.

    It was a technique I was using increasingly:  Lock your sights on a pleasant indulgence, not too far into the future, then count down the number “of sleeps” until you reach it.

    What comes after that can be dealt with there and then, I concluded. Not the most effective of long-term strategies I admit.

    The nirvana that I was focused on, at the not too distant horizon, was the annual Star Trek convention at the Rio Hotel (“Resort”) in Las Vegas. I had secured my tickets online and, in an unmitigated moment of personal indulgence (justified as reward for my corporate servitude) had opted for the “William Shatner photo opportunity” (at a not inconsiderable personal expense I hasten to add).

    Suffice to say, William Shatner has been a very important man in my life. I have often referred to him as “my TV dad” as I believe many of life’s important lessons, modeled and illustrated with such thespian panache by the great man, were ingested and forever absorbed during school summer holidays when the BBC (in a valiant attempt to rescue the northern mothers of 1970s England) ran all 79 episodes of Star Trek at 10am each week day.

    Mr Shatner taught me the importance of the acceptance of difference; of not interfering with alien cultures; and, probably most importantly, how to run and jump over the fauna of a Southern California hillside.
    I was beside myself with giddy joy at the very idea of standing next to the great man and having the moment captured for all eternity.

    I opted to drive Otto (the Audi) to Vegas as, extreme displeasure at encasing Onself in a flying metal tube aside, I had come to the logical conclusion (as Mr. Spock would) that door-to-door the entire duration of the trip would probably have been the same.

    The Rio is not the flashiest of Vegas “resorts” but this was not an issue. As soon as I set foot into its heavily air conditioned halls I was transported to the United Federation of Planets. Grown people in an assortment of wondrous costumes festooned every corner of the hotel: admirals; science and engineering officers; even the odd red shirt; the ones that get killed by the aliens first.

    (In a flurry of sartorial laziness, I too had opted for a red shirt, but I was saving that “costume” unveiling until the Star Trek karaoke event later that evening…)

    For my face to face meeting with my TV dad I wore my Captain America t-shirt as… Mr Shatner is Canadian… and I didn’t want to come off as too… keen.

    There was an hour to go before my 15:00 hours slot for the photo opp so, being a person of timeliness, I tore myself away from the collectible tables and raced along the corridors to the designated area (dodging middle-aged Vulcan brides – from Ohio – along the way.)

    I turned the corner and was perturbed to see a line that was already 20 or so people deep. By jove, I mused, this is something of a production line; get ’em in and get ‘am out. I needn’t have feared, the management of the line was extremely efficient and the weaving mass of excited Trekkies started moving at almost warp speed.

    As I tentatively stepped in to the room, there was the great man himself.
    I was giddy; a summer holiday English schoolboy all over again. Within minutes I was whisked alongside him and, grinning from ear to ear (undoubtedly an unnerving sight for Mr Shatner), I thrust out my hand. “It’s an absolute pleasure sir… I am a huge fan.”

    (I could tell from his expression he hadn’t heard that line before, or one delivered with such intense enthusiasm.)

    He smiled a professional smile and acknowledged my presence with a handshake and, in one fluid, blurred moment, we were posing for the camera; click and done.

    My grin remained in place for the remainder of the entire day, right up until Star Trek karaoke that evening.

    I sang “space oddity” (very badly) and star swayed and trek grooved… loving the aliens… in my red shirt… among my people.

  • Ms Monkey

    As a teenager, in the early eighties, I was a late punk/early goth & my favourite band was The Damned. I was totally enamoured with their lead singer, Dave Vanian. I had posters of him all over my walls, had all their records & went to see the band whenever I could. It would be fair to say he was my teenage crush.

    But time passed, I grew up, got married, raised a family, got divorced and got older. A couple of years ago, some friends suggested going to one of the band’s thirtieth anniversary gigs. I went, enjoyed it thoroughly & decided to hang around by the stage door. The wonderful Mr Vanian popped out for a chat & turned out to be a thoroughly nice chap….sadly, there was absolutely no chemistry whatsoever! He’s still my middle aged crush though!