I met Jim and his wife, Elena, at the swimming pool of the Sheraton Hotel in Santiago, Chile. Having time and several bottles of cold Chilean beer to kill, we exchanged stories about our lives.
My stories intrigued Jim enough that when he went up to his room, he googled me.
“How often does that happen?” I wondered.
“Hardly ever,” I thought.
So in his room, Jim reads aloud several articles about me to his Mexican-born wife, Elena.
Elena listened carefully and when Jim paused to take a sip of ice water, she asked, “Is Mort famous?”
Jim replied, “I doubt it. But I’ll ask him and see what he says.”
Well, the next afternoon, we’re back on the pool deck sipping cervazas fria and talking up a storm, when Jim matter-of-factly tells me that he googled me. Then he said, “Elena wants to know if you’re famous?”
Having been caught off guard, by such an interesting, intriguing and personal question, I took a long sip and an even longer swallow of my beer. I needed to gain some time to think about my answer. I wanted to come up with a clever reply.
I looked Jim square in the eyes and said, “Nah, I ain’t famous but I’m almost famous. I ain’t no celebrity but I might be a minor celebrity.”
I let my words hang in the air to see if Jim wanted an explanation.
What I got was a broad smile, a deep laugh and a Southern accented, “What-the-hell-do-you-mean-that-you’re “almost famous?”
I took a deep breath knowing my answer would be long.
Well, I know that if you have to ask if you’re famous, you’re not. But I also know that the bar for “almost famous” is set at a much lower level.
And here’s why I meet that lower standard.
Millions of people have heard my voice, read my name and seen my mug on TV. I bet you didn’t know, that I appeared on the CBS National News with Dan Rather. Those were the days before cable, when millions of viewers watched Rather. And I was on local TV in South Florida too many times to count.
Millions of people have read my name in the New York Times, the St. Louis Dispatch, the Miami Herald, the Miami News, the Palm Beach Post, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Life and Money Magazine.
According to my website counter millions of people have read my short stories.”
I paused to take another breath and continued, “On the other hand, I’m definitely not TikTok famous or Hollywood famous or sports figure famous but I’m pretty sure that with over 250 blogs on the Times of Israel that I’m Times of Israel blogger famous. I don’t have paparazzi photographing me when I leave my home or my car but I’ve been photographed at a good number of events and I’ve autographed a good number of my books.
So please tell Elena, that fame is relative. Tell her, Mort said he’s “almost famous” and he’s damn proud he made it that far.
Jim smiled, nodded his head and said, “I’ll do that buddy.”