Laura's (Near) Close Encounter

Hi Everybody!

When I signed up for the list and introduced myself, I gave a teaser about my almost-encounter with RM. Well, I guess it's time to make good. This is long, and has a sad ending, but hang in there, 'kay?

This happened over a winter break from college, in early January 1990. I had spent the holidays at my parents house in central Florida, near Orlando. The last week I was there, a TV news reporter said one night that RM would be in Orlando *tomorrow* to work on his latest movie for Universal (Shakma).

The next morning, I borrowed my mom's car and drove to the studio (about an hour away - I thought I'd never arrive!!!). I gave my name to the security guards, and explained that I have been a big fan of Mr. McDowall's ever since I was five years old (Planet of the Apes, of course!), and if Mr. McDowall might have a moment, it would be the highlight of my then-20-year life if I might have his autograph. The guards looked at me like I was retarded, and told me to have a seat.

A couple of hours later, someone came over to me and asked me if I were the one waiting for RM. When I said yes, the man said that I'd have quite a wait, since Mr. McDowall wouldn't be arriving for another couple of days, and only the pre-production people were there then. He did say that if I gave him my name and phone number, he'd make sure Mr. McDowall knew I had come. With childish optimism, I left the man my name and my mom's phone number.

I had to go back to school on Sunday; classes started Monday. I spent my last few days of break sitting nearly on top of the phone, hoping it would ring and be someone from the studio. No luck.

Sunday morning, I trudged onto the plane and returned to school in Cleveland Ohio. As was typical for the airline my parents transported me on, they left my luggage in Tampa (in 4 years of college, this happened 10 times: 3 summer breaks, all 4 xmas breaks, and 3 spring breaks), so it was a really bummer end to my holidays - no RM and no suitcases.

When I got back to my dorm, I called my mom to let her know I got back to school OK, and she said, "You'll never believe the phone call I got today." My heart leapt into my throat. "A really nice lady called, I think she said she was assistant to Roddy McDowall or something like that. They're sorry that you missed him the other day, and wanted to know if you were free for breakfast tomorrow. I told her no, you were gone."

I wept. There was no way I could turn around and get myself 1300 miles to the south before breakfast tomorrow, even if I had a bucketful of money, a suitcase, and no other obligations. So Monday morning, instead of meeting my absolute hero, I was in linear algebra. And my mom didn't have the presence of mind to give Mr. McDowall's assistant my address at school, so I couldn't even get his autograph or anything.

Over six years later, and I'm still all choked up with disappointment that I didn't get to at least shake his hand and thank him for all the wonderful movies and TV shows he's made for us to enjoy.

So next time anyone has a close encounter of the RM kind, tell him Laura says Hi and Thanks!

CY'allL8R!! I need to get a hankie now.

:-) Laura

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