There’s a story that takes place in a tiny, picture–postcard New England village — a town where, it so happened, the actor Paul Newman was fond of vacationing.
A Michigan woman and her family were visiting that seaside town. Late one Saturday morning, she felt a craving for a double–dip chocolate ice–cream cone, so she stopped by the local café and general store.
As she walked in, there was only one other customer in the place: a man in jeans and a T–shirt, sitting at the counter having a donut and coffee. Idly, the woman glanced his way, then did a double–take. One further look at those baby–blue eyes confirmed it: her fellow customer was none other than Paul Newman.
Newman noticed her presence and nodded graciously in her direction. Then he went back to his coffee.
“He just wants his privacy,” the woman thought to herself. “Just order your ice cream. Pretend there isn’t a famous movie star sitting a few feet away.”
That’s exactly what she did (although — as she later told the tale — her heart was thumping the whole time and her hands felt clammy). Calmly, she watched the clerk scoop out her ice cream and pack it into the cone, never looking once in Newman’s direction. Then she handed over the money, accepted the ice–cream cone and change, and headed out the door without a sideward glance. As the screen door slammed shut, she congratulated herself on how coolly she’d handled the whole situation — like a real Hollywood insider.
When the woman reached her car, she realized something wasn’t right. Something was missing. In one hand she held her change, but her other hand was empty. “Now where’s my double–dip chocolate ice–cream cone?” she asked herself. “Could I have left it in the store?”
Sheepishly, she went back in, hoping she’d see the cone still in the clerk’s hand or maybe in one of those holders on the counter.
But no. She looked to the left. She looked to the right. No sign of the missing cone. She was just about to ask the clerk if he remembered handing it to her, when she happened to glance over in Paul Newman’s direction. Those blue eyes were sparkling with amusement.
Flashing his trademark, pearly–white grin, he said, “You put it in your purse!”
Now there’s a woman who was distracted!