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Opinion

The search for Bill Murray

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September 23, 2011

Bill Murray lives in Charleston, SC. He is the everyman and chances are you will see him. Just give it time. That was my hope at least.

I was visiting a fellow Appalachian Trail hiking enthusiast named Li’l Cubit. She lives in a musician’s house, an open door for many dear friends to frequent for the drink or random jam sessions. Through these inter-minglings, I learned how Billy (informality is the first step towards emotional investment) has touched them and their friends in his unique party dog way. It usually went like this, “one time a friend of a friend was eating a hot dog at the bar and Bill Murray showed up and ate half of it saying, ‘No one will believe you.’” Everyone I tell that story to will bust it, not in a dancing way either. You know if you pulled the same stunt, fists would be thrown. The argument for Billy, “c’mon, man. Besides, who is really going to believe you?” These occurrences are not isolated instances. Basic Google searches will reveal several blogs with similar stories of Billy accidentally throwing a Coke bottle at someone, surprise bartending at South By Southwest, or washing dishes at a random party.

One day I was walking down [insert] street when Bill Murray passed by on his bicycle, stopped short, winked at me, and then continued on.

That is how it came to be that I borrowed Li’l Cubit’s bicycle one sunny day with the hope of rubbing shoulders with this comic legend. I pedaled to downtown Charleston, the Battery, and Market square. Along the way, I ate at Sticky Fingers, essentially an Applebee’s with southern flare. Stephen Colbert said Oct. 19, 2006, “Sticky Fingers barbecue, if your fingers ain’t sticky, it ain’t barbecue. I just trademarked that.” On the window outside there is a list of notable celebrities including our own Billy. After finishing my sweet potato fries, I pulled out a map of downtown Charleston, and my young college student server noticed this and sat down highlighting a few things that might interest me. After some good ideas, I asked him about Billy and he said that this area of Charleston would be the best area to bump into him. It was on!

One night at a bar my friend was pushed into a can by Billy, he said, “no one will believe you.”

From there I pedaled down to the market square where elderly black women were weaving baskets out of bull rushes and sweet grass. No Billy. Next, I was onto the Battery where mega-weights like Oprah lived and possibly, fingers crossed, ole Billy. Nope. For some reason I daydreamed that he would bust out of a random door as I passed by, in an inebriated state, salt and pepper stubble, in a bath robe trying to get my attention. In the dream, he gave me 50 dollars to go to the corner market and buy him some more alcohol to keep his buzz going. Not in the least.

One day a friend tried to get his autograph and he said, “today’s a handshake day.”

Even though I did not see Billy on this trip, it is possible that I have sat where he has sat at either Sticky Fingers or the infamous Mickey’s Dining Car in downtown St. Paul. If not, I have at least seen where he has sat before.

One time a friend of mine had a conversation with Bill Murray at a coffee shop about his ex-girlfriend (whom ole Bill had randomly flirted with in the past).

Christopher Pagels is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.