Fly-Fishing

The first name that pops into my head is Lance Henriksen, but immediately I know that, like always, I've screwed the name up.

So I used to work at the Wal-Mart in South Philly--automotive department, which is funny because I know nothing about cars. The department next to it was sporting goods, a department that generally didn't have any associates assigned to it at night. Lucky me, not knowing anything about sports, either, it was also part of my beat.

One night this old man, dressed from head to toe as this sort of outdoors type--beiges and browns and whatnot--comes over into sports. He turns to me, wearing these big dark-brown-lensed sunglasses indoors, and I'm ready to freak out. You see, I'm good with faces. Every time I watch a movie, I can pretty much tell you who everyone is if I've seen a movie of theirs before. Names, not so much.

So here I am, late at night, tired, coming toward the end of my shift (or, I should say, close to closing time before they lock us in to clean up for three or four hours), and I run into a celebrity. The first name that pops into my head is Lance Henriksen, but immediately I know that, like always, I've screwed the name up. I mean, I don't think they look all that much alike--I just cross them together in my brain. In any event, here's Christopher Walken asking me about tackle.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Are you sure?" Well, if you're asking if I went, "Ohmigod, are you Christopher Walken? I loved you in _Suicide Kings_!" (I _loved_ _Suicide Kings,_ but Denis Leary really blew me away.) Well, no, of course not. It's obvious he was incognito; he didn't want to be gawked out like some sideshow act. I almost didn't hear him ask me about where he could find tackle.

It's funny: He didn't quite sound like Christopher Walken, with all the changes in pitch and tone like a roller-coaster ride. It was much more reserved, and made me think whether he didn't become some parody of himself when he was "on." The man before me was frail, showing his age, controlled, almost actively trying to blend in with the crowd. This discussion may have been the finest performance I've ever seen someone allow him to yield.

So I show him our aisle for what he asked, to some degree embarrassed at its condition, as it literally looked as though a bomb had gone off--little clear packages littered all over the shelves, few on the pegs they're supposed to be hung from. (Reminding myself that it's not my department and that I can't clean that entire mess alone, I instantly felt better). All the same, I apologized for the mess.

I told him, though, that they were all marked down, literally cents for each one because no one ever buys tackle there. He said something about loving to fly-fish in the area. Thanking me for my help, he left, and I got back to automotive.

And that's it. No autograph, no wink or nudge. Just a man wanting to fly-fish.

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