dateline: Rochester, Minnesota
subject: celebrity sighting
For a serious health issue and a passing year, within the aura of the world’s finest medical center, my wife Lynn and I have become woven into the fabric of the Mayo Clinic. Two million patients a year, from the hindsight of Nebraska to the Himalayas of Nepal, arrive in rural Minnesota seeking ‘treatment’.
In the interim, having traveled every subway tunnel, public and private, seeking out employee shortcuts, and unmarked elevators, this writer, ever vigilant, has dissected the bowels of the system….which brings us to today’s subject. The Dalai Lama. Yes, that Lama, Tibetan leader and symbol of kindness and magnanimity.
Known to have visited the clinic before, usually on a yearly basis in the month of April, his highness (a.k.a. Lhamo Dondrub to his close friends) is now a sprite 76 y/o. An internet search revealed that he planned a brief appearance in Los Angeles on April 21st, and was scheduled to be in Chicago on April 25th, where His Holiness will participate in the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. If you are like me, not a Nobel Laureate, as least not yet, then you, too, did not receive an invite. Sooo….where would old Lhamo, during this 3 day vacuum, be on the 22,23, and 24th? Welcome, fellow sleuths, to the underworld of InsightOut where yellow journalism and bogus reporting run amok.
Imagine that you are in the Kahler Grand Hotel, an 85 year tradition of catering to the rich and famous ( both Rick Santorum, deposed presidential candidate, and the Ambassador to Syria were here in March), and you, casually dressed in a crisp Ralph Lauren® shirt, a pair of baggy Chaps® jeans, both purchased at Goodwill®, one hole in the knee, with an official looking lanyard, pretend to be “lost” in an unmarked basement corridor. When, suddenly, you are confronted by a contingent of foreign looking security personnel and a pleasant older chap in an orange bathrobe and really spiffy spectacles;
The clinic, parochial and private, is protective of their patient population. No press conferences, no release of confidential information, celebrity visitors are veiled in gauze-like anonymity. I join this crew, ascending in a very slow freight elevator, replete on three sides with olive green collision matting, and arrive at the first floor destination to be greeted by a handsome man, believed to be physician representative of CEO, Richard Noseworthy M.D.
I am unceremoniously shunted away from the entourage into a sea of Chinese students, one, a quite attractive young woman who pulls me aside.
“Did you just get off the elevator with his holiness ?”
” Well, yes ”
“Did you get to talk to him ?”
” Of course”
“What did you say ?”
“In a brain freeze panic, only the standard Mayo questions came to mind, so I blurted out,”
- spell your first and last name
- your date of birth, month, day, and year
- and do you have insurance ?
As if mistaken for Mayo personnel, he gave me a buddha-like smile, tilted his head reverently, and in a hushed tone, replied,
July, 6, 1935
“I believe so”