Hail is other people

Hail: we had HAIL last Wednesday. The storm that raged from Chicago to Maine hit us here on Long Island as a 30-minute pounding of wind, monsoon, and HAIL.  Of course, Yours Truly was out in it, experiencing the weather so I could write about it in my journal (weather: the single most interesting part of a journal– as long as you describe what its impact on your normal routine is because that is what readers 100 years from now will want to know trust me: I’ve read hand-written diaries and when it comes to weather, I want to know what they did 100 years ago when it HAILED…should I make this another whole different post?).

Anyhoo. I was out there, in the lightning and thunder, and then the HAIL hit. Hail is the most science-fiction kind of weather we get on earth…except for all the other kinds of weather. Lightning? Rainbows? Sun sets? Are they not, like, utterly fictional if we didnt’ see them with our own eyes??

But I digress. Altho there was much damage to the west and north of us, (mayor of Bridgeport, CT, wants the Feds to declare his city a National Disaster after this storm) here on Middle Egg this was the only damage that I saw with mine own eyes:

But, dear readers, this is not why I am blogging this week.

The thing that’s put a bug up my butt this week is this red hot happenings from my own dear Long Island Newsday (newspaper) Blog about the hometown Crazy Train that is Lindsay Lohan and her mom (Dina):

Yesterday we heard straight from Dina Lohan that she was turned away at a Carvel ice cream outlet for attempting to get a free birthday cake for her son by using a lifetime free ice cream card in her daughter Ali’s name. Dina claimed that she had her own card, but had left it at home, and she became outraged when a clerk confiscated the card and called the police. She hilariously added that her family was “treated so much worse than regular people,” and sneered “wait until Lindsay and Ali hear about this.”

Carvel has responded to this incident, and their statement is very matter of fact and basically takes Dina to task. They say that they only gave cards to Ali and Lindsay, and that the cards state that the holder must be present to get free ice cream. What’s more is that the cards clearly say that no more than $25 in free ice cream can be obtained in a week. Carvel ice cream cakes run about $30 and up. Plus, Carvel points out that Dina is the one who called the cops to get her card back, and they didn’t just “show up” like she claimed.

As part of Carvel’s 75th Anniversary celebration last year, we issued 75 Black Cards to celebrities. These cards were issued in the celebrity’s name and require the card holder to be present at the time of use. Many celebrities have enjoyed their cards at our CarvelIce Cream shoppes and have shared their excitement with being included in the celebration.

Unfortunately, the Lohan family has been abusing the card. While the card was issued in Lindsay and Ali’s names only, their extended family has repeatedly used the card without either present. At first, we graciously honored their requests while explaining that the Black Card was not a carte blanche for unlimited Carvel Ice Cream for the extended Lohan family and friends. After more than six months of numerous and large orders for ice cream, we finally had to cut off the card and take it back.

Dina Lohan reacted badly and called the police to have her card returned. The police responded and did return the card to Dina with instructions not to use it again.

This is an unfortunate situation where certain people feel entitled to use a celebrity’s name for their own purposes. We regret that the Lohan family is upset and hope this matter is put behind us quickly.

This incident got me to thinking about the  most obnoxious celebrity I ever met. You may or may not know that I, Yours Truly, have held many a lowly service industry job in my time, various retail and “hospitality” industry jobs that is, and I have had my own Carvel Ice Cream-type run ins with famous people.  While I have nothing bad to say about Steve Martin or Mick Jagger (both who showed up at the B. Dalton’s on Fifth Avenue where I was working and very, very politely asked about getting help finding a book), I DO have something to say about Telly Sevalas.

Telly Sevalas: What a creep.

I was working at the front desk at the ITT/Sheraton/Saint Regis Hotel on Fifth Ave. in Manhattan in 1988. I wore a uniform (OK. It was a tuxedo, but still: I had to pay union dues and I had to hope to get over time or holiday pay to put anything in my savings account) and I was supervised by a series of title-happy, Go-By-The-Book (and really: there WAS a book) assistant managers from the Eastern Block who resented having to work their way up in Amerika when they were PRINCES for god’s sake in their own forlorn homelands behind the Iron Curtain….

Anyhoo. It’s a Sunday night and Telly Savalas strolls in. I am at the front desk and I check him in and I ask the usual check-in question: And which credit card, Mr. Sevalas, will you be using for your stay?

And Telly just stands there, exahales, and, as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, shakes his head. “No, darling,” he says to me. “No.”

I decide to let the moment hang in the air. I’m kind of  an expert when it comes to passive-aggressive customer service at this point in my life because I’m 32 years old and have been under-employed MY WHOLE FREAKING LIFE. And I’ve met other, better, celebrities before; worlds better than this has-been homely TV celeb.

He’s still shaking his head. I wait until he says something. “Check with your CEO,” he says; “I NEVER have to give my card at a Sheraton hotel,” he tells me.

Turns out that Telly, being of Greek extraction, is like the most famous Greek-American in America and so,  is like a freaking PRINCE amoung Greek-Americans and the ITT CEO (I forget his name, but I know his twin brother used to turn up at the St. Regis drunk ) is Greek-American,  so Telly gets to stay at any ITT/Sheraton hotel for free. But I had not gotten the memo that informed all staff members of this and had personally insulted Mr. Sevalas by asking him to withdraw his credit card from his wallet because, apparently, it’s a big horrible burden to Mr. Sevalas to have to check into a hotel LIKE A NORMAL PERSON.

So Telly then gives me a whole lecture about WHAT a great FRIEND he is of the ITT CEO, who by the way IS MY BOSS, and don’t I know who he is? Etc., etc., etc.

Well, I got a groveling assistant manager to smooth things over eventually, but even now, all these years later, I still wonder. Why did Telly Sevalas have to go to all that trouble to impress a lowly front desk clerk with his VIP status at Sheraton hotels? Why didn’t Telly just hand over his credit card and call the hotel manager’s office in the morning and let them straighten out the room charges? Why did he feel the need to educate me on his importance? (Well, I think we all know the answer. Because Telly Sevalas is/was a DICK.)

I wonder this because, at that same hotel, I had the pleasure of checking in so many other, purely delightful celebrities, who never made a big deal over their exalted status as Special Human Beings on  the Scale of Famousness.

Paul Hogan, AKA Crocodile Dundee: extremely, other-worldly handsome in person, genuinely polite and gracious. Really: I was surprised how much more handsome he was in person than on film.

Patty Hearst and her dad, who both waited in a long check-out line for their turn to sign their room charges. Good breeding shows.

Raymond Carver, who was so delighted that I recognized him in the check-in line (and waved him aside so I could get him out of the scrum.., hey: he’s a GREAT WRITER) that he gave me a book of his when he checked out.

Robert Wagner, a true gentleman, who spoke softly and thanked me by name when I gave him his receipts.

Richard Chamberlain, who I had a big crush on since I was 16, who needed change for his cab fare on his way out of a dinner at the hotel and made EYE CONTACT with me as I gazed adoringly at his face.

And — you won’t believe this — Sylvester Stallone. Who I’ve heard from other people can be a real prick but was sweet and unassuming when he swam into my ken. I still have a soft spot for Sylvester, for the kind way he handled the paperwork that I put in front of him, in the 1980s, when he was a big, big star and I was a girl in a uniformwith a plastic name plate pinned to my lapel. 

But Telly Sevalas?? Sheesh. And now, Dina Lohan.

Get Over Yourselves. Even If You Are Dead, Mr. Sevalas.

Anybody else got some good dish on household names? I am all ears.

14 comments to Hail is other people

  • Janet

    Gotta love those folks who apparently don’t know they are mortals like the rest of us. Nicest celebrities I’ve worked with? Rosalyn Carter when she was first lady couldn’t have been more gracious. Bill Clinton — what a charmer. Ann Richards — funniest woman who ever lived and couldn’t be topped in the dirty joke category.

    There is always a Telly Savalas — mine was Howard K. Smith, long dead anchorman for ABC I think — who royally chewed my butt because I had the nerve to put him up in a suite in Houston and the hotel windows wouldn’t open. Dude, this is Texas, the land of air conditioning: we don’t open windows here to let in the heat and air pollution. Get over it. The way he carried on, you’d think I’d parked him under a bridge for the night (about what he deserved).

    Most memorable celebrity experience? I once had a personal service company, and we were called at the last minute to outfit a 5-bedroom house for Kim Basinger when she was in town to make a movie (before she won her Oscar and proved she was slightly more than the dumb blonde she appeared to be) and then provide daily maid service for 3 months. Requests from her agent were specific: must have only Evian water, must have at least 12 large white towels every day for drying her golden locks, must have a place to park her husband’s motorcycle (the husband before Alec Baldwin), etc. In spite of all the “demands,” all I know is that we are all the same — we stocked their toilet paper too.

    My company held up our end of the deal, but couldn’t seem to get paid. This dragged on for awhile and I couldn’t seem to get through to Ms. Basinger’s personal assistant that they owed us money and we needed it. Long boring story made short: I finally threatened to send our “photos of how your client really lives” to the National Enquirer if I didn’t get my measly two grand by the following day. A miracle happened — the check arrived by Fed Ex, with a demand for the negatives. I cashed the check and had nothing to turn over: really, why would I bother to take pictures of a bathroom with enough hair products to outfit a salon? Or what was really the biggest surprise of all: a sweet little stuffed teddy bear that lived on a big king sized bed covered with a designer duvet. By the way, Kim Basinger herself was nice and quite beautiful — I liked her.

    Some people wear celebrity well, and some don’t. The bad ones? I bet their momma just didn’t raise ‘em right.

  • maryann

    Great post, followed by a great comment from Janet! Enjoyed both very much!

    As usual, was laughing my head off over such great lines as:
    >their exalted status as Special Human Beings >on the Scale of Famousness
    and
    >Get Over Yourselves. Even If You Are Dead, Mr. >Sevalas

    Great stuff!!!

  • I worked at an advertising agency in L. A. when Nixon ran for Gov. I hated Nixon and witnessed several slightly dishonest campaign ads that came out of the agency, including one that I told a co-worker about. She reported it to the press and it got into the news. I was really afraid of getting fired. This ad was nothing compared to todays campaign ads.
    I didn’t get fired and later Nixon visited the agency. He came by my desk and put his arm around my shoulder as we discussed a Christmas card I was working on for Waste King Garbage disposals. He wanted to know if they would dispose of artichoke leaves. Believe it or not he was really warm and nice. I still didn’t vote for him, though! And thought he was a rotten president.
    Later, I met Reagan in similar circumstances in an elevator. My mother went to high school with him which I mentioned to him. He didn’t seem the least bit interested even though he might have gotten a vote. Maybe he sensed that neither my mother nor I would ever have voted for him. Nixon had a reputation for being cold and Reagan was seen as personable. It was the exact opposite in my slight experience.

  • Shelley

    Years ago when I lived on Maui, I was working in a very small shop in Lahaina that sold high-end sunglasses, watches and an assortment of beach related lower end stuff.

    One night a limousine pulled up to the corner, and out came Elton John and his entourage of several male friends. They were dressed rather outrageously, purple tights stand out in my memory (don’t recall the rest of the wardrobe, but suffice to say it was not the usual Maui summer attire).

    They stormed the store (enthusiastically, but very politely), piling up stacks of t-shirts, designer windbreakers, and sunglasses, and the odd watch or two. I couldn’t decide if I should acknowledge knowing who he was, or just act all cool and professional. I opted for just treating him like anyone else.

    It sure was a great night to be working on commission though as they were extravagant shoppers! He and his friends were quite friendly and nice, not all all snobbish.

    The best part was when they came back the next day and our other clerk, Jim was working. He bore a striking resemblance to Elton, and constantly got comments about looking related to him.

    When Elton John came into the store that afternoon, the first thing Jim said to him was, “Excuse me, but did anyone ever tell you that you look just like me?”

    Elton took it in stride and laughed with him about it and shopped up a storm again.

    I did hear later that he was bemoaning being swarmed on the streets by people recognizing him, and we all thought…hmmm…perhaps if he ditched the limo and purple tights and rhinestones, he might be able to be a bit more incognito.

  • Shelley

    Richard Simmons also arrived by limo one day, however he wouldn’t get out of the car at all, and just sent his driver in to purchase something.

    Our shop owner (who had been known to chase people down the street to make a sale), wasn’t going to let him get away that easily. He went out to the car and convinced him to roll down the window (just a little bit), but Richard Simmons refused to come in the store and seemed really unwilling to be even a tiny bit social.

    Bonnie Raitt started to walk into the shop one day, but when she saw the look of recognition on my face, before I could even speak, she turned around and hurried off down the street.

  • Nadine

    I once worked in a gift shop in a nice businessman’s hotel in Manhattan. Along with the usual NYC souvenir tchochkes, the store stocked a few men’s shirts, ties, and underwear for those times the luggage was lost or a business trip lasted longer than planned.

    One night, a German was in the store looking at men’s briefs but he didn’t know how to convert European sizes into American sizes. I was the only one on duty that night at the cash register so he came over and asked me for help, but I didn’t know anything about men’s clothing sizes.

    David Frost (pre-knighthood) had just paid for a newspaper, so the German recognized him and said “Hey! You’re European! Can you tell me what size I’m wearing and if this will fit me?” With that, the German turned around, tugged out the tag from the back of his underpants, and showed it David Frost.

    Mr Frost read the size on the tag, then the package of briefs the guy was holding, and said he was sorry but he couldn’t help.

    I don’t remember what happened re the German’s drawers emergency, but I totally remember with Mr Frost’s civil manners.

  • I had never heard of Dina Lohan. I wondered if she was bigger than a tea bag?
    Then I looked her up on Google. I don’t think I shall bother with her again….

  • Terry

    Janet says she has to love those people who apparently don’t know they are mortals like the rest of us. Sigh. Well, apparently you don’t either, based on how you fawn over people who wait in line like the rest of us for no more reason than who they are. Gee, Patty Hearst, bank robber, waited in line just like me. Wow, what a gal! (BTW, Janet, now you understand how so much of the world loves Americans who don’t know they are mortal like the rest of the world. Now THAT is some serious irony – the peasantry and cannon fodder who don’t know they are mortal crabbin’ about those who don’t know they are mortal.)

    But, Vivienne, I don’t really want to attack you at all. Like Bill Maher always says . . . oh, never mind that part. The point is only that people who think they are something special are only that way because we make them that way.

    Furthermore, if you’ll pardon me saying so, you’re making the mistake of generalizing people’s entire personalities based on your experience with them – a very destructive thing to do, these instant judgements. We’re all assclamps, betimes, and so are those we love AND hate. So if we want a world which isn’t eternally Hobbesian – a world in which the good do not feel an eternal right to murder the bad, the good and evil dichotomy – then maybe we ought to lighten up on our fellow man (and me on you, too, probably – sigh, my hypocrisy is showing). Your Stallone story is the perfect example and by your own admission, you’re aware of it. This is the second tale about Stallone I’ve heard; the first was one in which is behaviour and it’s effect on real lives was infinitely more egregious than the story you describe concerning Savalas. So, which is the real Stallone? Which the real Savalas? Obviously, neither. They both merely reflect what happens to ordinary people when we get power and influence.

    So, there you are in a hotel filled with people of more wealth than 99.9% of the world will ever see, nearly all of whom wouldn’t be allowed to set foot in the place, and you are discerning between the fulfilment of noblesse oblige among the many royalty.

    I absolutely LOVE the ice cream story. If that story – not just the Lohan behaviour, but the entire story – does not perfectly reflect the decay and destruction of modern civilization, I don’t know what does.

  • Vivian

    And the prize for Stating The Obvious goes to: Terry.

    Sigh. Yes, Terry, we all know how awful we are for being American (through no fault of our own, but still: we are GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY for being born in the right place at the right time), and how contemporary Americo-consumer culture is going to hell in a hand basket etc., etc., etc. And that thing about “generalizations”? Oh, so true: I think I made that point myself, once, in my seventh-grade mid-term paper for Social Studies (I had also just learned the word “ethno-centric” and it was YEARS before I figured out that using that word made me sound like an ass-wipe).

    Terry, honey, you gotta calm down. Have a little fun. Lighten up. This is just a blog. It’s not a position paper on the future of Western Civilization.

    But I guess you’re the kind of person who is not happy unless she gets to use the word “Hobbesian” once a day so I’m glad, really, deeply, happy that I gave you the chance.

    You’re welcome.

  • Nadine

    Not to dump on Terry, but I never take anyone seriously if he/she uses “it’s” incorrectly.

    Terry stumped me with “the good and evil dichotomy” (“dichotomy” means something that’s split into 2 parts, it doesn’t mean opposing forces; or maybe I’m missing an allusion to something C. S. Lewis-ish?), but I stopped paying attention at “it’s effect.” This is a sloppy thinker who can’t write. Vivian: this is not worth your effort to rebut.

    But I’m most offended by Terry’s dismissal of Americans (including Janet) as being peasants and canon fodder.

    First: There never were peasants in America. We had slaves and indentured servants, but never peasants.

    Second, and most important: Shame on you. Never EVER dismiss anyone who died in service to his/her country as “canon fodder.” Condemn the leaders who duped their countrymen to make the ultimate sacrifice; dishonor the chicken-hawks who support war but never wore the uniform; they’re fair game.

    But to dismiss a soldier’s willful sacrifice as “ironic” is beyond contempt.

  • Jacquelyn

    oh gawd, bring me a hot crusty croissant, tea and cat for my lap pleez

  • Terry, take a rest. This is a blog, for gods sake.
    Who made you the challenger to a simple thought about “famous” people who act like jerks, like the rest of us?
    Vivian, we are always entertained by your wit and observations. Keep it up.

  • Deborah

    I just found out this afternoon that I missed out on a chance to visit a celebrity’s house last week! I belong to a local botanical society & wasn’t able to make the meeting last Thursday evening. They were touring the formal gardens of some estate in the area. Turns out the estate they toured belongs to Sue Grafton. A is for Alibi Sue Grafton. I’ve never read any of her books, nor did I know she lived in the area, but it turns out she’s from Louisville. R is for Regret I missed it.

    I also had a near miss with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger several years ago. My parents gave me & my husband their frequent flyer miles so we could spend my 40th birthday on Maui. We stayed in a condo on the outskirts of Lahaina. The place was abuzz because Stallone and Arnold were in town for the grand opening of Planet Hollywood, which they co-owned. My husband and I considered going to the event but decided we didn’t want to drive into town that night. The next day we were shopping in town, and one of the clerks asked if we’d gone, said she had, and that Stallone was very friendly and much shorter than she’d expected. Remembering this, I found myself thinking how weird and wonderful it would be if that clerk turned out to be Shelley.

    Even though I didn’t see these two beefy celebrities, I did benefit from their visit. The news reported that after the grand opening, they walked down the street to another restaurant. That they didn’t eat at their own restaurant made me laugh, and I decided that any restaurant good enough for them was where I wanted to eat dinner on my birthday, and so I did. Yum.

  • Poor Terry – She makes the same mistake we all do when we make judgments- she generalizes a whole group of people in her in her attempt to criticize “our generalization” of our crazy love /hate relationship with celebrity, money, success and apple pie.
    Loved the blog and everyone’s stories were great.
    One thing the rest of the world doesnt “get” about Americans is that we love to whine + gripe about our culture + our shortcomings but we stand together when attacked!

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