The Time I Met Someone Famous On An Airplane


On Friday afternoon I flew on Southwest Airlines from Oklahoma City to Saint Louis to spend the weekend with some of my favorite people. On the way there, I sat next to someone famous.

I'm writing a post about this less because I think a lot of people will be interested and more because I personally think it's totally awesome, a little bit funny, and because I want to remember this later. 

As you know, Southwest has open seating, so there's no first class, meaning high-profile folk and rich people have to join the ranks of us middle-class citizens and sit in the "regular" seats. You board by group, so if you check in early and get a good group number, you can get a good seat. 

I was in Group A, and when I got on the plane I saw an empty middle seat in the first row--the one with all the leg room. There was a man sitting next to the window and a girl sitting in the aisle seat.

The girl was decked out in STL Cardinals gear. I noticed this because I am a Cubs fan. Bears eat birds, just sayin'. 

Upon sitting down, I instantly got a whiff of cologne from my left--and not hey-he's-20-years-old-and-trying-to-be-cool cologne. This was hey-I'm-rich-and-buy-expensive-men's-cologne cologne. It was nice. I wanted to lean in and smell more, but that would have been weird so I settled for pretending to fan myself while wafting the cologne scent in my direction. 

Kidding. I didn't really do that.

This man was also wearing dress socks. 
Fact: Rich people wear dress socks on airplanes. I wear sweatpants. 

Okay, so Rich Cologne Guy offered me and Cardinals Fan Girl a piece of gum, and I said, "Are you trying to say something?" Because, obviously, I like to make jokes with random strangers who smell good. (If Jordan were there he would have been hiding his face.)

As Rich Cologne Guy folded the gum package up, I noticed a ring on his right ring finger. And it was not just any ring. It was very well the biggest ring I'd ever seen. It was huge and bedazzled, and it looked like a high school state championship ring. But I knew it wasn't, probably because of the aforementioned cologne and dress socks. And the fact that he had a beard and looked older than 25. But mostly the dress socks.

I tried to get a closer look out of the corner of my eye without looking like I was trying to get a closer look, but finally I just went for it. So, like an idiot, I said, "Hey, what's your ring from?"

He turned, pointed at Cardinals Fan Girl, and said, "Her team."
Then he flashed the ring at me, and I saw words etched between diamonds:

World Champions
Saint Louis

With a cardinal in shining red on the top. 

As a huge baseball fan since forever, that was an exciting moment in my life. But don't worry, I played it cool. The girl next to me turned red and said, "I thought that was you."

Indeed it was. 
Ryan Franklin. Pitcher for the World Series-winning Saint Louis Cardinals! What. Up.
(image via)

So of course I wasted no time in informing him that I was a Cubs fan. He laughed and said, "I feel for you guys." Sad face. Then he told me that Wrigley was one of his favorite places to play. He's retired now but still works for the Cardinals. 

The three of us talked for the majority of the flight about baseball, because it turns out the girl (who's name I never got) is obsessed with the Cards and travels around the country going to games. She admitted that she did know who he was even before I asked but was too embarrassed to talk to him. 

Know who wasn't embarrassed? This girl. 

1) Because I didn't actually know who he was
2) Because I have no shame

Then he said, "Want to hold my ring?"
Umm, yes, please. 
So we held it, and it was dang heavy and bedazzled as all get-out. And it was awesome. 

And after we talked about baseball, we switched gears a bit, and he told us about how his wife had just had a baby a month ago. He pulled up newborn pictures on his iphone. We're pretty much bffs now. 

Once we landed in STL, the three of us walked through the airport together, and a few people who did know who he was came over to chat. I wandered off at that point because it was awkward. I mean, we didn't actually know each other. 

But I did get to hold his ring and eat his gum. 
That sounded weird.

So that's the story about the time I met someone famous on an airplane.
Allison said...

Haha...go girl. That's awesome! I love that he asked you if you wanted to hold the ring. Great story!

LeAnna said...

You have the BEST. STORIES. EVER. I don't have a clue about baseball, but that's okay. Glad you got to eat his gum.
I hope.

Geoff Reese said...

Now that's just one of the way coolest stories.

To think that he got a chance to sit next to YOU. You should have asked him if he'd like to hold your ring.

Great post. Not because of him but because of you.

Anonymous said...

Given my newfound love for baseball, I too would've found this to be amazing. Although, I too wouldn't have known who he was. :) But wow, you totally helped make the other girl's day. Way to go.

I was going to let this slide, but since you used the word twice, I need to mention it. Was his ring ACTUALLY bedazzled? I suspect you mean bejeweled. Because bedazzled is this:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=e7ff45603c3dc16d&biw=1280&bih=905

Anyway, just sayin...

Great post otherwise. :) Lucky duck.


Anonymous said...

Also, I agree with your dad. You should've offered your ring for holding in exchange. :)

PAM said...

Audra you make me laugh out loud almost as much as Amanda does!

Amanda said...

Audra, as always, you are correct. Although it DID look almost bedazzled as well ;)

Melanie Wilson said...

What a coincidence. I found your post link on Geoff's blog and followed it. I'm a St. Louisan! What a fun experience. You're a lot bolder than I am. Good for you!