Friday, June 25, 2010
_APPY _ORTIETH _IRTHDAY, LANCE!
I'm sorry it has been a while...time got away from me, but I couldn't let the week wrap up without acknowledging that my friend Lance turned 40 last weekend.
I first met Lance when we were both the new college grads working at a PR agency in Los Angeles. We weren't in the same department, so I didn't know him well until we were both summoned as a last resort to fix a client situation. Apparently someone had rubbed a client the wrong way (possibly literally...we never got all the details), and they needed new reps to patch things up. So, they sent the kids.
Part one of the assignment was a road trip - my very first business trip. As we stood on line at the airport, I told Lance I liked his luggage. "Thank you, I won it when I was Teen Week Champion on Wheel of Fortune." I spent the rest of the trip hearing the blow-by-blow of Lance's 30 minutes with Pat Sajak, and was thrilled when several years later, I actually got to see the video tape. It is still the best half-hour of television I've seen in my life.
First of all, in the video, seventeen-year-old Lance is a soprano. Next, like a true publicist in the making, he squeezes a personal plug into every on-screen moment. For every letter he chooses, he mentions a friend or relative, "I'll take a 'K' as in Kelly, Pat." But the big moment comes when he's up big in dollars, and the puzzle is so easy to solve: "_oney Island _ot _og." Any New Yorker knows exactly what this is, but a kid from a small town in Northern California? Not so much. So he guesses a "Z" or something. But in typical, uniquely Lance-like luck, the next person loses a turn, the next is equally clueless, he gets a second chance and he figures it out! In the end, he wins a car and nearly suffocates Pat Sajak in a bear hug.
Back to the business trip - the clients loved us and the next week they were back in LA and we took them to the Dodgers game. Again, we knew nothing about entertaining clients, but we had a great time. We used all the money the company gave us to buy not only us and them beer and hot dogs, but everyone in our entire section. It was like spending the day with Ferris Bueller, without the snark and sarcasm.
Cut to 17 or 18 years later, and Lance still has that same joie de vivre. He reports that his wife, "J as in Jennifer," (for whom I believe he bought a necklace during his Wheel appearance - it was back when you still went shopping in their showcase vs. getting cash), had a great celebration for him that truly surprised and touched him.
So, Lance, _APPY _ORTIETH _IRTHDAY!! And many more!