As we were waiting on our layover from LA to San Francisco, Ray Liotta walked up to the flight. He chatted with some of the staff and sat down with a colleague. It was one of those moments that you don’t know what to do… do you be that guy and go ask for a photo? Or do you leave the guy alone as he’s probably bothered by folks all day. I didn’t want to be that guy… but I’m a huge fan. I’ve watched Goodfellas countless times and everything else from Field of Dreams to Operation Dumbo Drop to Killing Them Softly.
I’m a big guy so I fly first class rather than squeezing into coach and making my neighbors miserable. The plane loaded and Mr. Liotta sat down in 1B and I was diagonal in 2A. Marty and Jenn sat directly behind him. As we were waiting to take off, I quietly asked if I could snap a photo of Mr. Liotta when he stood up to get something out of his bag. His reply was like he was reading a line from one of his many movies. He looked me dead in the eye and said:
“Right now?! No! Wait until we land.”
I’m officially that guy. I mumble an apology or something stupid and I order a glass of wine. It’s 10AM.
The flight is great and Mr. Liotta even chats with Jenn and Marty for a few minutes. When Jenn mentions that we do marketing, he says that we need to get the word out on his new movie, The Iceman. After seeing the HBO special about Richard Kuklinski, there’s no way I’m missing this movie.
Back to the flight. Mr. Liotta gets up about 20 minutes away from landing and walks through the first class cabin chatting and taking pictures with folks. He leans over to me and flat out tells me that I need to do something about my weight… that I’m going to die if I don’t do something about it.
“Do you know any old people that are your size?”
I mumble some more.
Then he jumps on my lap and kisses me on the cheek. Everyone in the cabin laughs and Marty takes a photo:
The story doesn’t end there, we also meet and talk to him curbside… he was frustrated that his ride hadn’t arrived and the people are starting to swarm. We ordered a limo from Uber and a big ol’ Black Ford Expedition rolled up. We offered Mr. Liotta a ride to get away from the airport. He genuinely thanked us but decided to stick it out by going back into the terminal. We say goodbye and thank him again for the photos.
Wow. What a day!
Marty, Jenn and I couldn’t stop talking about what happened. More so, we couldn’t believe how meeting and speaking with Mr. Liotta was a reflection of what we saw on the big screen. He’s up front, transparent, and says what he’s thinking. There was no filter… I mean NO filter. I’m not just a huge fan of Mr. Liotta anymore, I really respect and appreciate the guy for the short glimpse that we met him.
I don’t have much of a filter as I grow older. When people ask me questions, they’re sometimes shocked at the blunt honesty with which I respond. It’s not that I’m trying to be a jerk, but I often come off that way. I think many people have lost the ability to say what they’re thinking. We live in a passive aggressive society where folks shake your hand and hug you, then walk away and talk about you behind your back.
Outside of my closest friends, there aren’t too many people that confront me on my weight. I’m glad Mr. Liotta did… this trip really killed me. I’m actually in the hotel room with a sore back – writing this instead of out in San Francisco enjoying the incredible weather. When I get back to Indy, I’m installing my bike rack and going to start riding a few miles to our office. I was planning to do it already, but Mr. Liotta’s bluntness helped push the issue with me.
Embrace your inner Ray Liotta.
We all need to be more honest. We’re living in a phony world… flying into the abyss because no one wants to be honest with one another – albeit our health, our government, our marketing and even our business. If Mr. Liotta taught me anything on that flight, it was to always be honest and open.