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BRUSH WITH FAME: When Willie came to town

Willie Nelson

Country music superstar Willie Nelson. Courtesy photo

A brush with fame comes in many forms. You might run into a celebrity at a restaurant, be best friends with a famous inventor, sit through a Broadway play with a president (I know someone this happened to!), or had an early career writing songs, one of which became a Billboard hit. Whatever your brush with fame, we want to hear about it for a new feature in The Picayune Magazine. 

To prime the Highland Lakes waters (although your stories don’t have to be local), I want to tell my own favorite tale of a brush with fame.

It happened in the mid-1980s in Marble Falls. I worked on Main Street and was gathering the crew to go to lunch one day. Co-worker Patti Dean, who now goes by her maiden name Patti Glass and lives in Kerrville, decided at the last minute not to go with us. 

We decided on a Mexican restaurant in the building that now houses The Picayune Magazine and KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune on Avenue K. I can’t get many people to believe this, but that’s what I remember about the restaurant. I don’t remember the name either; however, I have total recall about the rest of the story.

When we walked into the restaurant, there sat Willie Nelson having enchiladas with three friends. Now, I’ve lived in New York City twice in my life and I’ve run into my share of celebrities (including Paul McCartney at a diner on 57th Street). I do not EVER interrupt them, stare at them, ask for autographs. (None of this was possible with McCartney, who had bodyguards while he lunched with his child.) 

This time, however, I could not resist, and not just because it was Willie Nelson. I knew Patti was a big fan, and I had to get her a souvenir. For others, I will go to great lengths.

I took one of the paper placemats on our table to Willie and told him my friend Patti was unable to come because she had too much work to do. I asked him to sign the placemat for her.

“Hi, Patti! Sorry I missed you, Love Willie Nelson,” he signed, seemingly not at all put out by my crazed fan behavior. 

Well, Patti went a little nuts when presented with the placemat, although another co-worker said I probably signed it myself.

“No, this is Willie’s signature!” Patti exclaimed. “I have it on a hat. I recognize it.” 

The denouement is that I took Patti to the restaurant so she could see for herself, and we pulled up as he was getting into the back seat of a gray Mercedes. Patti rushed him, gushed at him, and got a handshake. 

When Willie left, her smile turned upside down. 

“A handshake,” she said. “I was hoping for a kiss.” 

That little ditty was about 350 words, so that’s our ultimate maximum limit. Send your Brush With Fame to We will print the best. 

And, by the way, Patti Glass gave me permission to retell this 35-year-old story, so be sure you get approval from anyone you include — except for the celebrities of course. Willie doesn’t know a thing.