April 29, 2010

Mad About My Mom's Favorite Child

Mama's Losin' It

I have accepted another challenge assignment from Mama Kat. I have chosen to write about an experience I have had with a celebrity. I decided not to tell you about the time I flew from Dallas to L.A. on the same plane as Victoria Principal back when the show, Dallas, was still on TV. I spent the entire flight wondering if having a celebrity on the plane was a sign the plane wouldn't crash...or was it a sign that it would.

And I'm not going to tell you about the time I nearly walked right into Noah Wyle in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and said "Hi!" to him in the way you say "Hi!" to someone you actually know and are surprised to see. Even as I said it, I was trying to figure out how I knew him. You see, I was convinced this was someone I knew in real life. I'm sure he could see the wheels turning in my head as I tried to place him. It finally came to me when the theme from ER filled my head, at which point I stopped myself from saying anything else...as I turned and bolted from the lobby. Later I came out of the gift shop laughing out loud at how stupid I must have looked and nearly walked into the poor guy...again.

No, I'm not going to tell you either of those stories. This is a story about another celebrity.

Despite the fact my mother has 3 children, I have told her that her favorite child is a celebrity...the child who gets to be perfect. His name is Paul Reiser.

Paul's dad, Sam Reiser, was a wholesale health food distributor and, at one time, the largest in the country. My mother worked for one of the distributorships that Sam Reiser owned. Apparently Sam had always assumed that Paul would follow in his footsteps so sent Paul to work for a several weeks at a time at the company's various distributorships. When he came to the one my mom worked for, Mom was appointed his surrogate mother. It was her job to find him an apartment and make sure he had everything he needed. Paul also accompanied Mom on sales trips while he was here.

I remember when my mom told me that Paul wanted to be a stand-up comic, my response was pretty much the same as everyone else's. "He wants to be a what?" You can see why his dad tried to encourage him to stay in the family business, so he could have a real job.

Mom talked about how funny Paul was the entire time he was in town. They traveled to Wichita in a snowstorm and evidently laughed throughout the trip. For years afterward, anytime I was in the car with Mom and she saw so much as a tiny patch of snow along the road, she would say, "That snow reminds me of the time Paul and I went to Wichita in a blizzard." And she'd laugh some more. It was during one of those trips down memory lane that I jokingly said, "Paul gets to be funny and not have any flaws. He's your favorite child, isn't he?" She denied it, of course, but the "favorite child" description stuck.

I met Paul once during the time he was here and I didn't think he was particularly amusing. Clearly Mom had raised my expectations far too high, because the guy really is pretty darn funny.

As we always suspected, Paul didn't really want to go into the health food business, and at some point, he decided to give show business a try. He worked the nightclub circuit for a few years, and everyone was excited when went on the Tonight Show for the first time. We were glued to the TV for that first appearance and noted that Johnny's laughter seemed very sincere.

Then Paul got his first movie role in Diner. Of course Kevin Bacon was also in Diner, so Paul is my link to Kevin Bacon. (You know me, and I know Paul, so there's your link to Kevin Bacon, too!) Not long after Diner came out, Paul came to town for an open house at Mom's company. This time, he lived up to all of Mom's hype, and I thought he was hysterical.

Soon, he was in a bigger movie, Beverly Hills Cop. His character bleeped his way through a couple of scenes, and I thought, "Don't the writers know that his mother is going to watch this movie? Don't the writers know that my mother is going to watch this movie?" Sure enough, Mom loved seeing Paul in the movie, but she didn't care for the language. I assured Mom that Paul had no control over the script.

More movie roles followed, and then a TV show, My Two Dads, which lasted a couple of seasons. Then in 1992, Mad About You debuted. Mom thought the first few episodes talked about sex too much. But she couldn't blame Paul for that, because he had no control over the script.

"I don't know, Mom," I said. "He's the creator, writer, director, and executive producer. I'm thinking he has some say. Ahem. Who's your favorite child now?" She laughed.

Mom still enjoyed watching Paul in Mad About You throughout its run, but somehow Paul's pedestal was just a little dinged after that.

I can't imagine why. ;-)


  1. Great post. I didn't know you are sorta related to Sam Reiser. How cool! I love the new look of your blog too.

  2. Thanks, Carol. I wish I hadn't let "sibling rivalry" influence that first meeting. I'm sure he was much funnier than I thought at the time. ;-)

  3. So I guess this makes you Paul Reiser's sister?
    I always enjoy hearing about celebrities before they became famous. Especially when they were just "average guys" before fame came knocking.

  4. Yeah, a sister whose name he probably can't remember since we only met twice...and the last time was in 1984!

  5. Wow, crazy! You've had a lot of celebrity experiences, I couldn't even think of a single one for me to talk about...

  6. Pretty Cool!!! :-)

    All my friends seem to have celebrity sightings in their past...me...nada...zero...zip.

    I suppose I need to get out of my little town and find something exciting to do so I can meet a real celebrity!

    Or maybe I should just become one???


  7. Oh I just loved this post! Can you ask your brother if I can borrow $1 million dollars? : )

    And I love the Noah Wyle thing ... like you thought you knew him in real life. SOOOOOO FUNNY! I could picture me doing the same thing.

  8. That's a great story! And I am so glad you didn't tell us about the guy from ER, because it would let me know that I am not the only person who has moments like those. Mine was with Gladys Knight...she was sitting right in front of me in church (I was interpreting in the front of church) and for the life of my I couldn't figure out why she looked famililar.
    ABout 4 hours later, it hit me.
    But lets not talk about that.

  9. Yeah, the Noah Wyle thing could also serve as a post on embarrassing moments.

  10. I'm related to Kevin Bacon!! This is so exciting. Definitely worthy of a Facebook post.

    I LOVED watching Mad About You. Still do. :)

  11. Related to Kevin Bacon??? You win!

  12. great story, margaret! what a hoot to think your
    mom spent all that time with him.

  13. It was probably the most fun she ever had at work. Mom never doubted he would have a successful career in entertainment.

  14. "I spent the entire flight wondering if having a celebrity on the plane was a sign the plane wouldn't crash...or was it a sign that it would." LOL! I thought I was the only one who thought things like that.

    I went to see "Out of Africa" when I was in New York, and I realized the person in front of me in the popcorn lineup was the model/actress Iman, who is in the movie. That was surreal.

    Your Mom sounds like a hoot. I'll bet you were really her favorite child. :-)

  15. It is surreal to see a celebrity out in the "real" world. It's kind of like when small children see you someplace out of context - you just can't believe that they do the same things that you do!

    My brother and sister might disagree, but I swear that Mom has no favorites...at least among the 3 of us!

  16. Interesting remembrances and degrees of separation!