It's true. Some things you have to see to believe. And then, even though you're certain of the reliability of your own eyes, you don't believe it.
While touring with my latest book, I trudged through the unglamorous moments and carried on with the hard work of it all. In short, that means long days and long miles that bring on a bone-deep weariness that is hard to describe and harder to endure. It means being up at 4 a.m. or sleeping late to 5 a.m. and then heading out to be bright and perky on early morning radio or television in a different city every day or so.
Oh, and it means doing my own hair and make-up. It requires dressing myself like a big girl and then getting myself through the traffic to the right destination. Occasionally, I'm fortunate enough to have a media escort, a lovely person who is hired by the publisher to drive me hither and yon and share expertise on that particular market. Most of the time, though, I'm out there on my own.
That's why what I saw was so hard to believe. I saw it. Then I did a double take. That was followed by my mouth falling open, a child-like stare and then I sat down slowly in a chair and just watched the whole scene in front of me.
I had just finished a segment on a regional morning television show and was standing in the green room, talking to the producer, when a young, unknown teenage actor breezed in, accompanied by six people.
Let me say that again: Six people trailed him. Six people.
I have no people. No entourage. No friends who are willing to follow me around, because it means getting up before the rooster has even turned over in his nest for the first time. No one has that much loyalty or love for me. Well, there are times that I can coax Dixie Dew out of her warm, down-comforter-covered haven to tag along. It means, though, giving her treats and an extra bowl of milk. But as soon as she's in the car, she's back to sleep and then opts to sleep through the interviews. She's not much of an entourage.
"Are you kidding me?" I asked the producer, under my breath. The kid was scheduled to be in a big, upcoming movie. But still, six people?
She laughed and shrugged. "The movie studio is paying for it."
Ha! I couldn't even pay people to follow me around like that.
I had just toted my own curling iron in and touched up my hair while I waited, then the show's make-up artist had done a quick powder over the make-up I had previously applied. Yet this kid had his own make-up artist, a stylist to adjust his denim jacket perfectly and a hairdresser to adjust one piece of hair and spritz some spray on it. I suppose the others were publicist, assistant and a groupie.
The kid was nice. Very cordial and well-mannered. He shook my hand, looked me squarely in the eye, smiled in glittering Hollywood fashion and said his howdy-do very nicely. Still, I kept thinking, "He's 18 and he has an entourage. I hope he hasn't peaked. My goodness, it'd be terrible to peak and then head downhill at 18."
Then it occurred to me. I'm more than twice that age and I've never had an entourage. Have I peaked and my peak didn't even have my own hairdresser and stylist tagging along behind me? That's sad.
I'm encouraged, though, by the fact that I still have Dixie Dew, the chubby dachshund, as an entourage. She is appropriately adoring and attentive.
And best of all, she's free.
Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of the new book, "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Sign up for her newsletter.