I went to a wine bar in downtown Wichita last night for a birthday celebration of a couple of fairly recent acquaintances.
It was a good time - and the first time I danced since the whiplash collision in March. That's another story, though.....
This post is about something else that happened, which I totally didn't expect. I knew Jennifer and Elizabeth and no one else from their birthday crowd...but I had a sneaking suspicion I'd chatted with someone there via Twitter. So I went over to introduce myself - and she screamed my name in delight. Then she turned to her friends and said, "It's Stan Finger!"
They began shouting with joy, too - as if they'd just met a celebrity.
It felt surreal. I found myself wondering what I'd done to prompt such a reaction.
Then the woman I initially approached explained: she and her sister and friends had been reading my stories for years, taking particular pleasure from the weird crime stories I have done that have gained national and international attention. It had become a family tradition to call each other to discuss "Stan Finger stories."
"I'm going to have to tell her I met you!" she said, as if that were a noteworthy event.
Intellectually, I realize that my job has a higher profile than many...but it can still be startling to experience it first-hand sometimes. Perhaps the most bizarre example came a year or so ago when I arrived at the scene of a murder - the poor victim was still lying in the middle of the street in broad daylight - and a passerby asked my name. When I told him, he was thunderstruck and immediately went in search of a camera so he could have his picture taken with me.
Turns out he was a regular listener of a radio program that relishes reading my offbeat stories on the air.
I must have had my photo taken with party-goers a handful of times last night. It made me wish I'd worn a nicer shirt. ;-)