When I was fourteen, my family and I went on vacation to Hawaii. Our first stop was Oahu for two or three days, before some time on Maui.
The year was 1984, and there were two big passions in my life – music and sports. MTV was still new, and I watched videos religiously while doing homework or any other indoor activity. When I wasn’t indoors, I was playing sports, mainly basketball, with my small town friends. I had experiences on that vacation that touched on both of these interests.
First, almost immediately after checking in to our hotel, I went exploring as teenagers are prone to do. Walking past the gift shop, I saw a familiar face inside. It was the guy I’d watched so many times on MTV, singing his hit song, ‘Jeopardy’, with its marriage-themed video. This was my first experience as an autograph hound, but I thought fast and raced to the lobby phone where a note pad and pen rested.
This first brush with music celebrity was over in seconds, but it fueled a lifelong quest for similar experiences.
A day later, my father, sister, and I were walking along the beach among bungalows and huts renting snorkeling gear. We approached a playing court of some type with a tall chain-link fence around it. There was a familiar “pock” sound, which I at first thought was the sound of racquet ball.
When we got closer, we saw a game of handball being played against a vertical slab of concrete. This was cool. I’d heard about the game, but never seen it in action. Then something struck me about one of the players, and I said to my dad, “Isn’t that Wilt Chamberlain?”
It was, he assured me, but just to make sure, I went to the sign-up sheet hanging on the fence on a clipboard. There was the word that affirmed it – ‘Wiltie’.
We watched in awe, and when the game ended, Wilt came off the court and sat on a picnic table near us. He was a giant. My father approached Wilt, asking, “Can I take a picture of you with my kids?”
“No, I don’t do that sort of thing,” was his reply.
“Can we at least have your autrograph?”
I should have stolen the sign-up sheet with ‘Wiltie’ on it, but the three of us were so collectively shocked, we just walked away.
Here’s the Greg Kihn autograph. How I’ve managed to hold onto it for twenty-nine years is truly amazing, but it probably has something to do with it being my first one. As for Wilt, I can only speculate that if one of us was an attractive woman, he would have given us his undivided attention.