Archie—the First Manning

I said, "Honey, my job is toast if you stay on the wall and the owners walk in. Please go up and be the royalty that you are."

So I was managing a fine-dining restaurant in the ever-picturesque Oxford, Mississippi. Archie was in town for his alma mater's LSU game. The restaurant had a much-over-capacity bar crowd above the dining room.

One of my "carders" was a darling band member—saxophone, as I recall. About 20 years old, he was, dark brown eyes and a heart of gold. I strolled down to check on him, as he was too sweet to card and refuse people, and the line was out the door.

There, leaning against the wall with a sweet and patient smile, was the Legend himself. Not three feet from my darling little carder was a photograph of Archie tossing a football in his Ole Miss uniform. He was not only a legend in the city but also a dear friend of the owners.

My eyes all but popped out of my head as I busted a wide grin and said, "Hey, Archie, whatcha doing?" He said, "I am waiting for two people to leave so you can be to capacity." I looked at the cutie-boy carder, so innocent, so clueless. Never in a million years would he have done this had he known there was a football great, talented blood pumping through the veins, standing before him.

And I said, "Honey, why is Archie Manning standing on the wall?" He said, _"Who?"_ I took his little hand (he was over six feet tall) and walked up three stairs and said, "Him!" and pointed to the picture and then waved at Archie, graciously smiling. Archie smiled happily back, thinking it was quite humorous, the saxophonist blushing innocently.

I said, "He is the greatest legend Ole Miss has ever had, and we _never_ put him on the wall. We'd rather go to jail, but he gets in the bar!" Archie so humbly said, "Oh, no." And I said, "Honey, my job is toast if you stay on the wall and the owners walk in. Please go up and be the royalty that you are."

He was very humble and, with all the Southern charm possible, smiled, shook my hand with the other on my shoulder, fully engaged, and said, "Thank you, ma'am." Then he quietly reentered where his friends were waiting.

I was 23. I continued to make fun of the band boy for not knowing a football great. He was so cute and kept saying, "But how was I to know? He was only 20 in the picture on the wall." So classic. It was my only verbally hilarious brush with fame—a Southern charm-filled brush!

Meanwhile, I have waited on the entire Manning clan, all MVPs included, at the amazingly delish Yocona River Inn in Oxford! Go Paige and Nichol!


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