Saturday, September 01, 2012

The night my wife told Rhett Miller about our first date

Last night after work my wife and I headed to the mid-city part of town; the Old 97's were playing a show at the El Rey Theater, and we had tickets for the show. We got there well before the doors even opened so after we parked we went across the street to the Five Guys Burgers for dinner. After we ordered she went to the restroom on the way and from across the dining area she started gesturing toward the corner. It wasn't   an open table, but the band's front man Rhett Miller and a friend eating there. No one else in the place seemed to recognize him, but such is the thing about the band's popularity is such that only fans would spot them off-stage.

I used to see Rhett perform solo acoustic shows with some regularity years ago when he lived in L.A., and talked to him on occasion afterward. He's almost ridiculously friendly, and happy to talk with fans. Still, I wasn't going to bother him while he was eating, and I figured my wife would be too nervous sitting near him. (She can get a little... how to put it?... awkward around celebrities she likes.) However, when she emerged from the ladies' room she motioned for us to sit at the open table right next to where Rhett was sitting.

Before we even got our food, she simply could not control herself and politely interrupted Rhett, because she had to tell him the story of the role he played in how we are married today.

There was a moment on our first date, many years ago, when I made clear my intentions by quoting a line from a song Rhett wrote titled "Designs On You". That line, "I'd be lying if I said I didn't have designs on you." And to this day she still notes that as the seminal moment in our entire romantic relationship.

(Eventually I did admit I didn't come up with it, but by then she already liked me.)

The thing is: After hearing his, Rhett was totally cool with my quasi-plagiarism.

As my wife geeked out Rhett asked if we had a camera on a phone for a photo and my wife fumbled to get hers handed to Rhett's friend (Kevin McAlester, director of some of their videos). We then posed between the tables right there in the restaurant, but the first two attempts didn't turn out well. Not wanting to hold them up, my wife said it was fine, but Rhett said there was no rush, and Kevin then pulled out his own phone and took two shots, the better of which is below.
Five Guys should pay us for this sort of promotion.

While he then got my wife's number to text the pictures to her phone, a white-haired elderly woman who was sitting at the table behind where we'd just been posing and noticed the photography took the opportunity to talk to Rhett. However, it had nothing to do with the reason why we had talked to him.

She couldn't figure out how to use the camera on her phone (an older flip phone), and having seen our group using phone cameras she was hoping he might be able to show her how, as she was interested in getting a shot of last night's blue moon. And being the ridiculously nice person he is, Rhett proceeded to do his best to help her figure out.

Before they left, Rhett mentioned how he hadn't finished the set list for the show, and although he wasn't promising anything he said he'd consider putting "Designs" in there in honor of our story. I noted that we'd be up near the front (it was a general admission show). We shook their hands and they headed out.

My wife then went up to the counter to discover our food had been ready for a while. However, she was so elated still that she could barely eat it.

Fast forward a few hours, to the encore portion of the concert. It had already been a phenomenal night, but as they started the next to last song they played we heard the familiar riff from "Designs" and got excited. However, before the vocal part began, Rhett looked clearly right at us in an undeniable manner, in an obvious nod to our earlier interaction.

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't better than all the other times we'd heard the band perform that song.


After the show we happened to pass by the tour bus parked outside as we walked to the car, and Rhett was by the door, and we thanked him.


  1. Not as cool as the time Vince Neil killed a man in my honor, but still majorly cool. Awesome.

  2. I just sent my boyfriend the link to this!!!! (jack if youre reading this don't make fun of me) But we have a similar story! 2 years ago he played "Rollerskate Skinny" at an open mic and I was smitten like a kitten.


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