“Look who’s performing at the Hard Rock next week,” I screamed to Stewart who was sitting less than two feet away, also reading the newspaper.
It was in March of 1987, two months after Stewart and I started our new life on Miami Beach. We planned to buy a car, but in the meantime we were getting around just fine on bicycle and foot and, when necessary, public transportation. When Bayside Marketplace opened in downtown Miami, we took a bus to the new tourist attraction. A few hours later, having walked in and out of every outlet store snacking on novelty treats only sold there, we headed towards the bus stop to make our way back to the Beach. With no bus in sight, I jokingly stuck out my thumb as if to hitch a ride when a shiny black stretch limo stopped for a light directly in front of us. To my surprise, the back door opened and a familiar-looking well-built man with a thick mop of dark black longish hair and neatly groomed beard jumped out. With no questions asked, he ushered us into the back seat of the car. He got into the front seat next to the driver.
“Where are you heading?” the man with the gravelly voice asked. “South Beach. You can drop us off anywhere once we get over the causeway,” Stewart answered.
“No problem. We’ll take you anywhere you’d like. I just need to make a brief stop at my hotel to pick up my suitcase,” he said. He was staying at a small, newly renovated hotel on Collins Avenue.
During the ten minutes we were alone with the chauffeur, our curiosity got the best of us. “Who is he?” I asked.
Of course I knew of Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band, but only from hearing his music on the radio. Maybe I had seen his face on an album cover, but out of context I couldn’t distinguish between one rocker with long hair and another.
When he returned to the car, bag in hand, he introduced himself. He said he had missed his plane to London the previous night. He was scheduled to appear in a concert with Whitney Houston later in the week and was booked on a flight leaving this evening. He had the rest of the afternoon to spend with us, if we had no important plans. We didn’t.
We invited him to our Lincoln Road studio, along with Jerry the chauffeur, whose uncle owned the limo company. Jerry was a model who only drove the car for special people and that was only when he wasn’t strutting the runway in Paris or Milan.
Bob, that’s what he said we should call him, looked at all the artwork in our studio, paying special attention to Stewart’s mixed-media 3-D boxes. “I want this one,” he said pointing to a heavily detailed scene of Ocean Drive. But he couldn’t take it with him. He and Stewart agreed that as soon as he returned home to Michigan after the concert in London, he would mail a check to Stewart. Stewart said that as soon as the check cleared, he would FedEx the painting to him. They shook hands on the deal.
With still a few hours to go before takeoff, Bob invited us to join him for an early dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab. However, Joe’s was closed for a private party so instead of dining on upscale seafood we went to Puerto Sagua, a Cuban greasy spoon. At 7:30, Jerry insisted we leave so that Bob didn’t miss another flight. Bob didn’t have much cash on him, Puerto Sagua didn’t take credit cards, so Stewart and Jerry split the check. Bob kissed me on the cheek and gave me chills as he hummed a few bars from one of his songs into my ear. He told Stewart he looked forward to receiving his painting. We exchanged phone numbers with Jerry before he drove Bob directly to the airport. “What a fabulous day,” I beamed.
Early the next morning Jerry called. Stewart answered. “Did Bob give you his phone number?” Jerry asked, a hint of laughter in his tone.
“No. Why?” Stewart asked.
“Because Bob didn’t pay for the limo or for my service. The expressway was bumper to bumper and I didn’t want to be the reason he missed another flight, so I told him to work it out with my uncle. But when my uncle called the hotel to get Bob’s contact information, he was told that nobody named Bob Seger had checked in nor checked out,” Jerry wailed, loud enough for me to hear.
“He probably used another name. A lot of celebrities do that so they aren’t bothered by fans,” I asserted not wanting to believe I was fooled. “Hey, at least he didn’t take my painting,” Stewart smirked.
No harm done. Stewart and I bonded with Jerry over this supercharged day with our Bob Seger. And years later, in between modeling jobs, Jerry worked the door at one of the trendiest clubs on South Beach. He let us into the VIP area even when our names weren’t on the list.
“No, I’d rather remember the young “Bob Seger” I knew,” I answered.