Friday, March 14, 2008

By popular demand…

As I was hoping, enough of you asked to hear my Bill Murray story, so here it is.

We had a great six days in Spain; the first three visiting our son in Cadiz, then we all went up to Sevilla for three days. In case you’ve never been, Sevilla is a very old city that spent 500 years under Arab rule. The old city is very large and crisscrossed with hundreds of small streets, most of which are not wide enough to make a proper alley in an American city. No two of these streets appear to be parallel and every fifty meters or so each empties into a little plaza. The plazas all offer something interesting – beautiful flower beds, a lovely stature or fountain, often an ancient church or public building with Moorish influences.

It was on just such a plaza Wednesday evening that we stopped for the evening meal about 10:00. We sat at a table on the square under an orange tree lit from below. It was one of ten such trees on the plaza and the aroma from the blossoms was intoxicating. In was peacefully quiet because the streets of this plaza were too small for cars. The only sounds came from the bubbling water fountain and the laughter of the other diners, maybe 12 in number.

When no waiter appeared after a bit I walked into the restaurant to find one. I walked up to the bar where there was just one person talking to the bartender. That person was Bill Murray. I was, of course, a little surprised, but when he looked up I asked him if he’d seen Mike Kelly lately (a mutual friend), which sparked a five minute conversation that he showed no sign of finding bothersome. We parted.

Five minutes later he walked up to our table and presented us with an excellent bottle of wine, which he said was “an extra” he’d ordered “in error.” He chatted with all of us for another five minutes. He went back to his table and four friends.

A half-hour later he came by again with a brandy glass filled with something clear and very strong for me, which he refused to identify (and again called “an extra ordered in error”), plus an autograph and an inscription for my daughter based on our first conversation. The guy couldn’t have been more charming.

His four companions left on foot. Bill rode away on what looked like a 1957 Huffy with whitewalls and a little bell that he rang as he waved goodbye.