Beware of the stalker

Chad Filley
Guest Columnist

Without fans there would be no show business. If an entertainer becomes big enough, he or she will amass large numbers of fans. Somewhere along the line, performers occasionally get an obsessed fan that crosses an imaginary line into the realm of stalking. There are many documented cases of stalker going too far. Pop singer Selena was killed by an entrusted fan, David Letterman has woken up to an overzealous fan peering over him in his bedroom, and John Hinckley, Jr. tried to kill President Reagan to impress actress Jodi Foster.

I never imagined that my family would ever have to deal with a stalker, but we have. The woman isn’t stalking me or my wife, or our children. No, she’s stalking our bulldog, Antonio.

It all started two years ago when I brought Antonio to my youngest son’s baseball game. I tied his leash to the leg of my lawn chair, brought many treats and a collapsible water bowl and the two of us were set to watch some baseball.

Then she came. She appeared out of nowhere like a vampire in a horror movie. Before I knew it, the mystery woman knelt down, began petting Antonio, and explaining how her husband’s allergic reaction to dog hair prevented her from getting a dog. Before I knew it, she had called over her three children and they were pampering him like a day at the spa.

During the two-plus hours this woman sat by me, we discovered that she worked in the same area that my wife (Jane) does. I mistakenly told her that my wife brings Antonio to work every day. The woman told me that she’d have to stop by my wife’s work sometime to visit her new “friend.” People say things like that, but they don’t actually do them…right?

Once the game finished we parted ways after several goodbyes to her new “man crush” Antonio. I figured that was the last time we’d hear from her.

Two weeks later my wife came home and said that a friend of mine had stopped by with her children to see Antonio. I quickly went through my mental address book and couldn’t figure out who Jane was referring to. She explained that the woman worked at the bank near her work … Then it hit me. I explained who the woman was and laughed nervously.

A few weeks later the woman came in with her kids again asking to see Antonio.  Jane politely told her that she was working and that this couldn’t become a habit. The woman claimed she understood and asked if she could take a few pictures of her kids holding Antonio. The woman took the photos. End of story, right? Not quite.

Several months later my wife was walking our dogs during her lunch break in front of a nearby strip mall when an elderly lady came running out of a hair salon with her hair still in curlers.

“Excuse me but is that Antonio?” the woman yelled.

“Do I know you?” Jane asked.

“Yes, my daughter and grandchildren just love Antonio,” the woman smiled. “For Christmas my daughter made t-shirts with Antonio’s picture on them. Everyone in the family has one of the shirts.”

My wife just turned and walked away.

As I said before, all performers like being acknowledged by fans, to a point. I jokingly told my wife I knew I’d made it in comedy last summer when I had to be escorted to the parking lot after a show for 300 girl scout den mothers (never doubt how hard den mothers like to party), but I can’t brag about having fans snapping photos of me and then making holiday clothing with my mug on them.

Only my dog has taken things to that level. I hope he doesn’t have to “muzzle” her with a restraining order.

Chad Filley is a stand up comedian from East Central Minnesota. You can see a listing of his upcoming shows on his website, www.chadfilley.com.

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