The Afternoon I Met Sam Elliot

My wife, Randi, and I try to have two to three television programs at any one time that we record and watch at our leisure. It eliminates commercials (as someone who owns an ad agency, I see the irony) and keeps our television viewing (not counting Packer games) to two to three hours per week.

One of the shows we enjoy is “The Ranch,” a Netflix show staring Ashton Kutcher, Debra Winger and Sam Elliot. It’s a cute show with plenty of humor and a little bit of drama sprinkled in, and 30 minutes of relaxing entertainment. Since it takes place on a ranch (which is probably where they get the title), it can be considered a Western.

Randi and I were recently at a small beachside Italian restaurant, with maybe a half dozen tables. Sam Elliot and a friend were sitting at one of the tables, the only other one than ours that was occupied. With the small size of the restaurant and his voice, you couldn’t help but hear him. His voice rumbled in the room.

When we’d all finished dinner, I walked over, said hello, apologized for the interruption, thanked him for his work and let him know how much my wife and I enjoyed his show. He shook my hand with an iron grip, was generous with his response and appeared willing to talk longer than I was willing to intrude.  I took three things away from the brief meeting, beyond the fact that he is a gentleman and kind to intruders.

First, when he spoke, it was like he had sub-woofers built into his chest.  I could actually feel him talk through the handshake.  I know it sounds odd, but no less true because it’s unusual.

Second, the show, which was already fun to watch, is even more enjoyable now, having met Sam briefly. What I find truly odd about that is that I have no idea why. I cannot figure out why a chance 60-second meeting, which he has long forgotten, should make watching a television show a more enjoyable experience. But it does. I am hoping that should anyone read this blog and have thoughts as to why, that you’ll take the time to write me a note and share your thoughts.

Last, the man was made to star in Westerns. It comes across in his acting, obviously, and it strikes me he may be as tied to a specific genre as any actor today. Not only has he done any number of traditional Westerns (starting with a tiny role in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”), but so many of his roles that might not be Westerns in the truest sense, seem like they are: “Road House,” “Justified” and “The Ranch.”

Anyway, loved meeting him and hope to see him someday starring in a movie or television series based on my Brock Clemons / Coyote series of books. In the meantime, I’ll look forward to the next episode of “The Ranch.”

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