How I Met Bill Murray

Bill-Murray-Youre-Awesome1I met Bill Murray a month ago at O’Hare airport. I had just flown in from Detroit after visiting my family for Thanksgiving. Coming from the terminal, I’m walking to the escalator that will take me to baggage claim. I see someone who looks like Bill Murray going the same way. I think, that looks like Bill Murray but it can’t be. I keep walking towards the escalator, then I notice somebody who looks at the possible Bill Murray too. They say Hey, oh my god, it’s you! They shake hands. I step onto the escalator and think, it must be Bill Murray and, if so, Bill Murray will be stepping onto the same escalator behind me in just a few seconds. A bunch of thoughts flash through my head: I really want to say hi to him–but how? How do I tell him, your films are amazing! (?) I shouldn’t say Ghostbusters. Too old. But I just saw him in Zombieland and Broken Flowers, yea, so I don’t want to reference the old shit. But maybe I shouldn’t bother this man, who’s a human being and probably tired of being bothered, oh MY GOD HE’S BEHIND ME NOW.

Are you who I think you are?

He does one of those corner mouth smiles, classic Bill Murray doesn’t-react-in-his-face thing. (It is him!) He takes a second and kicks the top of my suitcase that is between us. It’s a kick that doesn’t use the rest of his body, only his leg. He says, What do you think? I can’t say anything- Bill Murray just kicked my suitcase! His eyes focus past me, he doesn’t say anything else, but then looks behind him as if to say our interaction is over.

I get off the escalator and walk towards baggage claim, confused and slightly mystified. I see him strike up a conversation with an African American lady who is already laughing. I am jealous — that could have been me laughing.

A year later, I’m walking downtown in the South Loop of Chicago. I’ve just come out of a Caribou Coffee because I didn’t want to go to Starbucks. I have a latte, decaf (I can’t handle caffeine- I always feel like I should explain that, apologize even) in my hand and I’m heading back east towards Michigan Ave on Balbo. I get to State Street and am waiting on the corner alone for the little walkman to come on. A man with a long trench coat steps up beside me. I sip my coffee and glance out of the corner of my eye and holy shit! It’s Bill Murray! Again! I almost choke on my coffee and an escalator of thoughts materializes inside my head: What should I say, will he remember me, should I say anything? Maybe we could actually have a conversation this time or he could make me laugh like the African American woman or I could get his autograph for my dad who was kinda pissed I didn’t get one the last time (my dad loves Ghostbusters). I take a breath, turn to him and say, We met, before, last year, we met! You kicked my suitcase on the escalator at O’Hare?

He looks at me, that corner-of-the-mouth half smile forms again on his face. He reaches out his hand, his pointer finger and thumb forms the OK sign, and he flicks my coffee cup– FLICKS my coffee cup! Some of the coffee erupts out of the plastic drink hole and I jump back slightly and look down to see if anything has spilled on my jacket.

Is this real, are you a real person? I say while wiping away some imaginary coffee. But there’s no answer because Bill Murray has crossed the street, the walkman blinking white and friendly.

I really liked you in Ghostbusters!!! So did my dad!! I yell — I’m not embarrassed about that anymore, I just want him to know all my thoughts — Why do you keep flicking my things, is it something about me?? Why are you downtown in the South Loop, there’s nothing here!

I see him hail a cab (he could have hailed one on my side of the street!). He looks at me once again, and waves before he gets in and shuts the door.

My dad’s going to be so pissed.



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