There are many reasons to love living in Boulder. But seeing famous people around town isn't high on that list. Unless you're a bike geek or a Top Chef fan, you're probably not going to run into any celebrities. That's why when it happens, it's worth noting.
Some of you may know Mike Nelson as the Channel 7 ABC weatherman. While not a worldwide celebrity, he is fairly famous for Colorado. He does the weather lead-in before prime time shows and when I was religiously watching Lost, I got to see a lot of him. At the corporate hellhole where I worked, he was the weatherman of choice, broadcasting from a television that was on in the early mornings. I grew to like Mike. His reassuring voice told me about the possibility of inbound storms and what high pressure changes had to do with it all.
Photo courtesy Channel 7
The first time I spotted this local celebrity out and about there was a lot of alcohol involved. On my part anyway. He was wearing a tux, the women sitting with him were in evening gowns and they were obviously enjoying an after-party from something fabulous. I had been bar-hopping and was already a little drunk when I came into the bar. Scotch was ordered when I realized that it was Mike Nelson sitting at the next table. Here was this guy that I felt like I knew. Quite honestly, I became starstruck and his celebrity got the best of me. I started checking out his table, stealing glances, mentioning his name in conversation and not quite believing that my weatherman was sitting a table away. Before too long, the thought of waving hello seemed more and more like a good idea.
My boyfriend became a little concerned at this point about my drunken flirting with Mike Nelson. As he should have been. "Be honest," he insisted. "Do I have anything to be worried about?"
I couldn't gather the courage to do anything more but drunkenly wave to Mike, as I was left somewhat speechless by the alcohol and the sudden debilitating fangirldom. I mean, we're talking about one of the leading weather experts in a state with very complicated weather patterns. He's even written a book about the weather in Colorado. (Like I mentioned earlier, it's slim pickings around these parts for celebrity. Unless you're in Aspen.)
Flash forward two years. My now-husband and I find ourselves at the Boulder Valley Humane Society fundraiser, held at the basketball stadium on the CU campus. There was a silent auction at the beginning of the night, with a live auction scheduled for later. We made a few bids in the silent auction but it was when the live auction began that things got interesting.
As it turns out, one of the auction items was a day with Mike Nelson. I couldn't believe my luck. This was it ... my opportunity to hang out with Mike Nelson. Sure, I would be buying my way in, but at least the money was going toward a good cause. I could rationalize it -- I was helping the puppies and getting the chance to see what my weatherman actually does all day.
The auctioneer said he was going to start the bidding at two and I couldn't believe my luck. Two hundred dollars? Are you kidding me? I could totally afford that. When he said it again, I confidently raised my hand with my auction number high in the air.
The auctioneer saw me and said triumphantly, "We have two thousand from the lady on the left. Thank you darling."
Mike Nelson strained against the stage lights to see who had started the bidding. His wife also tried to get a good look at me from her spot next to him on the stage. Everyone at my table was staring at me, some with questioning looks, others with new-found respect.
My husband asked me what in the hell I was doing, knowing full well my past with this particular weatherman.
I slowly managed a half smile-grimace and in the process, did a quick mental balancing of my checking account. I knew I didn't have anything close to two thousand dollars and began to wonder what possessions I could possibly sell to make up the difference. (In my defense, it wasn't fair that the auctioneer just assumed that everyone knew he was talking thousands.) My mind raced, my heart quickened and I attempted to take deep breaths. It felt like an eternity while I was sitting there. As the auctioneer continued to ask if anyone else could beat two, I began to silently beg the universe for some help.
Finally, from across the room, the universe answered and a gentleman raised his hand, bidding twenty-one hundred dollars. I realized I was off the very expensive hook and while I wouldn't be spending any time with Mike Nelson, I also wouldn't be forced to sell my car in order to pay for the experience.
But for that moment, when I was about to pay two thousand dollars to spend a day with the best local weatherman in Denver ... I felt alive.
Thank you Mike Nelson. For your forecasts. For your Tornado Dance. And for not interrupting our shows with your weather teasers. I'm sorry I got a little drunk psycho on you but you will always remain my favorite local celebrity encounter. And in case it wasn't painfully obvious, I will never be able to live in Los Angeles or New York.
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