Only a small population of people ever gets to meet one of its heroes. And I feel privileged to be one of the few to attain such a rare honor.
OK, so maybe “met” is a little too strong of a word. But the basic sentiment is still there, even though I didn’t actually talk to him or shake his hand. I could have, supposing I had hurtled over several rows of tables and jumped on stage to tackle him. (This is usually frowned upon in show business.)
However, I was in the same room as him, and that’s enough for me.
Now that I’ve sufficiently used more than 100 words without giving you any specific details, let me attempt to fill you in on what was going on.
As part of the HHS Spirit-N-Celebration trip to Kansas City, we attended a dinner theater showing of “Busybody” at The New Theatre Restaurant in Kansas City. “Busybody” is a comedy about a group of people who gets wrapped up in a murder mystery in which a corpse appears in one room, appears in another only a few minutes later, and then vanishes altogether.
This all happens within the first act.
In Act 2, the corpse walks on stage. (For those not familiar with show business, this is a subtle metaphor used in writing to imply the corpse is not actually a corpse, because it is alive.)
Leading the cast in this show was Lieutenant Detective Baxter, who wore women’s clothing in Korea only three decades before.
Wait a minute, I’m getting my shows mixed up.
Lt. Baxter was played by one of my favorite actors, Jamie Farr, who also starred as Corporal Max Klinger in the TV sitcom “M*A*S*H” in the 1970s.
I’ve seen Jamie—just for this column, I’m going to pretend that we’re on a first-name basis—several hundred times. “M*A*S*H,” like so many other retired sitcoms, is one of those shows that gets aired a lot.
Like “Full House,” only less nauseating.
But even though he’s appeared in my living room several times a week for the past few years, it’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of seeing him live, in person, on stage.
But for the sake of getting a column out of this event, I’ll do my best.
The emotion was something like this: “Wait a minute… Is that… I think it is… But is it really… It is… I thought he was taller.”
Because everything else had sold out by the time SNC bought the tickets, our seating was way in the back, so the only indication that a true TV star was on stage was the fact that people applauded when he appeared.
In fact, we were so far back that there was a two-second delay between the actors moving their mouths and the sound reaching our section of the theater. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
I squinted a lot. But through that squinting, I eventually began to recognize certain characteristics of Jamie.
OK, so actually I recognized one certain characteristic: his nose. That schnoz has not gotten any smaller since his days on “M*A*S*H.”
Jamie’s character as Klinger has truly inspired me.
I dare you to find a man who was mistaken for a big red bird with pink, fuzzy feet, or a man who tried to get a discharge from the Army by eating an entire jeep. And if you don’t feel inspired, I’ll show you a quick smack to the back of the head.
In fact, I have been so inspired by him that I named my car after his Klinger character.
My car has a long nose, and, because of cosmetic issues, also wears a bra. So I thought it fit to name it Max.
Now I can say that I have truly lived. I met one of my heroes, the very man whose character I named my car after.
As Jamie once said on “M*A*S*H,” “I’ll do anything! I’ll wet my bed. I’ll wet your bed. I’ll wet the whole camp!”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
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UFO: When Jamie Farr first stepped into his dressing room for “M*A*S*H,” he thought he was sharing the room with another person, because of the large wardrobe of women’s clothing.
Don’t ask why.