Time flies when you know a celebrity

By Kevin Wilson

I’ll admit that I should have written about this one sooner, but I think it’s still worthwhile. After all, when you have a brush with a celebrity, you need to let people know.
I can hear it already: Kevin, that doesn’t make sense. You’re a celebrity yourself. You’re the managing editor of the newspaper in Portales, N.M., and that’s got to be worth something. To that person I say: Mom, I know you’re proud of me, but I’m no celebrity.
I’m not much on predicting the future, either. My brush with celebrity was more than eight years ago. It was May 19, 1996. The place was the Broadwater High School Gymnasium in Townsend, Mont. The event was the Broadwater High School Graduation, only the premiere social event of the year (sadly, I’m not being sarcastic with that comment).
I heard a lot of things from a lot of people that day. Some teachers said they were happy for me, some classmates promised to always stay in touch and some classmates promised to stay in touch and did just that.
Then there was little Molly Flynn, an eighth-grade girl who I knew through a few school activities. She said, “I would have bought you a card, but cards cost money,” and she gave me a congratulatory hug instead.
That was the last time I saw Molly, until one April day when I decided to check the e-mail inbox. My friend Thomas, who also knew Molly’s family, let me know via a group e-mail that Molly was representing Montana in the Miss USA pageant.
I went to the pageant Web site (http://www.missusa.com) and decided to see what eight years had done to the girl I barely knew. The picture of Molly popped up and my face went numb for what felt like the next hour.
This was no longer the eighth-grade girl who gave me a hug because she didn’t have $2 for a card. This was a woman, and an exceptionally attractive one at that.
Part of me didn’t want to believe that I knew this flat-out gorgeous woman and I didn’t even make a reasonable attempt to know her before, during or after her transition to beauty queen. I comforted myself by lying — “That’s not Molly … somebody just snuck in photos of Shannon Elizabeth.” All of that was to no avail.
My friends weren’t much comfort either. “What do you mean, you never tried to date her?” was the one I heard most often. It was simple, I’d counter, because back then I was a senior in high school and she was in eighth grade. Sorry, Molly, but it’s in my best interest to date high schoolers.
She was four years younger than me, and when I was 18 that mattered. Now it’s no big deal if I was to ask her, or any other 22-year-old, out on a date.
The other difference, of course, is that if I approached her for a date now I’d likely be rejected faster than Keanu Reeves auditioning for Passion of the Christ. It’s all about timing, you see.
For the record, Molly didn’t become Miss USA. That girl is Shandi Finnessey of Missouri, and I’m sure that guys from her hometown are having the same type of regrets.
But you never know. I might end up running into Molly at some point, and I’ll exploit our small-town roots to form some kind of contact, even if it’s just to talk about her pageant experiences. But then again, she probably gets that treatment from guys all of the time. Celebrity and good looks tend to play a hand in these things.
Still, I do have an edge over other guys with that same idea. After all of these years, Molly still owes me a graduation card.

Kevin Wilson is the managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. He can be reached at 356-4481, ext. 33 or by e-mail: