Burt Reynolds, RIP

This is my Burt Reynolds story:
Somewhere in late 1992 I was working inspecting homes for State Farm Insurance. This was a great job for a lazy guy because it mostly entailed driving to a home, verifying that it did, in fact, exist, taking a couple external photos, and then taking those back to the office. Cake!
This also gave me plenty of time to screw around on my travels, stopping off to get lunch, or at a comic book store, or whatever happened to be on the way to/from/between my destination(s)
One day I stopped off in Peter Dunn’s Vynal Museum (Gulf-To-Bay Drive, across the street from Clearwater High School), and had picked up some random crap from the cheapie bin. While I was there, people had come in and gone and I didn’t notice. The cashier was fiddling around away from the register and hadn’t been paying attention. I went up to pay and as he took my stuff, he said, “Oh. It’s Burt Reynolds again.”
The way he said it cracked me up. It was just completely flat, with no affect whatsoever. It couldn’t have been funnier if he’d thrown in a “What ever shall I do?” or “Now happiness has returned to the village.” He wasn’t *trying* to be funny, but it was funny. I thought he was throwing random nonsequitors around, but then I noticed he was staring past me, so I followed his gaze and – holy crap! It’s Burt Reynolds!
“Holy crap!” I said, “It’s Burt Reynolds!”
“Yeah, he’s been in and out of here all week,” the guy said. Heavy sight. I dunno what Burt had done, but he’d clearly annoyed the crap out of this guy.
Burt had this enormous freight train of a bodyguard with him. He said something, then walked off. I went over, and stood in his peripheral vision about eight feet back (NEVER sneak up on celebs who (A) you know are good with guns and (B) have enormous bodyguards). He was looking through the Miami Sound Machine CD. No joke! Miami Sound Machine! Intently, like he was trying to find something specific.
“Pardon me, Mr. Reynolds?” I said. He was a little startled, looked at me, then quickly looked for his absent bodyguard.
“Yes?” He said.
“Hi. I don’t want to take up any of your time, I just wanted to say that I’m a native Floridian, and I really, really, really appreciate all you’ve done to bring the film industry to our state. Thank you.” I turned to leave.
“Oh, that’s very nice of you.”
“You’re very welcome.” I started walking away. In the background the bodyguard came out of the can, saw me, and looked startled like ‘I am so fired’, and started forward quickly. Burt must’ve seen him because he waved the guy off, and he instantly calmed down.
“Did…uhm…did you want an autograph or anything?” He turned to the bodyguard and said, “Run out to the car and get a headshot,”
“Hello,” I said to the bodyguard. He gave me an annoyed nod.
“Just wait a sec,” Burt said. I never get autographs. Just never do. I declined.
“I appreciate it, but I wasn’t trying to butter you up to get anything, I’m just genuinely greatful, and wanted to tell you it means a lot to folks who grew up here.”
Boom! Million dollar smile! “That’s so nice of you. Wow, thank you very much.” He stepped over, grabbed my hand and shook it, and slapped me on the shoulder. “Sure you don’t want an autograph?”
“Thanks, but I gotta get back to work,” I lied.
“Well all right. Nice to meet you!”
“Likewise!” I turned around and he slapped me on the shoulder again as I walked away.
Back at the office, my manager said,
“You were gone forever. What were you doing?”
“Screwing around as ever. Met Burt Reynolds.”
Eyeroll. “Sure you did.”
“Ok, don’t believe me.”
“Show me his autograph.”
“I didn’t get one.”
“Well then I don’t believe you.”
“Which is why I didn’t get one. I don’t *CARE* if anyone believes me or not about this stuff.”
“So what was he like?”
“Unsurprisingly very nice. I think I got his bodyguard fired, though.”

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