Like so many, I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of David Bowie. He was an icon in music and his unique sound and look was unforgettable.
I always liked his music, but honestly, I was not a fanatic. I loved his “Dancing in the Streets” duet with Mick Jagger and thought he was kind of cute in that video so I started reading more about him (there was no internet back then!) When I saw his looks from the 70s, I was slightly taken aback. I didn’t realize he was quite so… colorful in his early career. I decided to block those images out and focus on how he looked in the 80’s. Even now, when I think of David Bowie, I think of him with short blond hair and a long trench coat on his long and lanky body. That was sort of what he looked like when I saw him in New York City about 15 years ago.
My girlfriends and I were dining at our favorite Italian restaurant in Little Italy happily munching on some crusty Italian bread dipped in olive oil waiting for our Gnocchi Sorrentino when suddenly, my friend Theresa whispered loudly, “Oh my God! It’s David Bowie!” Our eyes widened and suddenly, the food was the last thing on our minds. We attempted to nonchalantly turn around to see this legend in the flesh without looking too obvious. Sure enough, there he was. Dressed in white pants and a white flowy shirt that was unbuttoned almost to his naval. He was carrying some shopping bags and appeared to be dining alone. He looked just like he did in the “Dancing in the Streets” video – tall and slim with short blond hair- with a just a few more wrinkles than he had in the video that was, by then, almost 20 years old. But he was still totally COOL.
My friends and I did not want to bother him and appear to be tourists (even though we were), so we took another look at him and then went back to our endless conversations about dating, teaching, traveling and all of the other things that single girls talk about. We also talked about celebrities walking around in public and how they must feel comfortable in New York since so many of them live there. We had seen several celebrities before, as has anyone who has spent any amount of time in New York City, can likely attest to. I remember thinking of Elvis Presley. He could not go anywhere in public without being mobbed by fans, which led to him being quite reclusive in his later years. We could not imagine living like that. It was pretty nice to see a star as huge as David Bowie shopping and eating lunch in the city, just like a regular person.
My friend had to go to the bathroom and got up to leave the table. When she returned, I decided to go, and asked her where it was. Her reply was “Go past David Bowie and make a right down the stairs.” We all started cracking up rather loudly and I got up and started to walk towards him. I didn’t want to be obnoxious but felt like I HAD to say something to him. But what do you say to DAVID BOWIE????? I took a deep breath and just as I was about to pass him, I smiled and said, “I don’t mean to bother you, but want you to know I am a big fan.” He looked up, flashed that huge boyish smile and thanked me. As I walked down the steps to the bathroom, I felt all giddy inside. I talked to David Bowie!
As my friends and I were leaving, we glanced at Bowie, who was now about to also exit the restaurant. People were on their way in and he held the door for them as they entered. The people looked up and thanked him and then realized just WHO was holding the door for them. Their eyes widened and they began saying, “Oh man! David Bowie! Thank you!” He nodded and slowly walked out the door back onto the street, blending in with the crowd. He had no body guards, no security guards. It was just him. Enjoying a day of shopping and lunch in a city he loved. I wonder if he knew how much that city, or rather the people in it, loved him.
Rest in peace, Mr. Bowie. You gave the world music that will play forever and you gave a few single girls a memory that will always make us smile.