Written by Puff Staff

Wednesday, 25 June 2003

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An Encounter with 007 - The ever observant Rob Shibata has an encounter with 007...and cigars. An Encounter with 007 This morning my wife and I drove to the town of Half Moon Bay, one hour south of San Francisco on the Northern California coastline. We had heard that a new Ritz Carlton Hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean had opened recently. We decided to have breakfast at the Ritz and check it out. Half Moon Bay has always been a small, agricultural town outside the mainstream Bay Area hustle and bustle. There have always been B&B’s and motel type accomodations of various qualities. Then came the championship golf courses and Silicon Valley commuters. Both helped Half Moon Bay begin to emerge from it’s wall flower status. The arrival of the Ritz marks Half Moon Bay’s status as an official Northern California resort destination. The elegantly trimmed six-story hotel looks out over the rugged coastline and 2 manicured golf courses. High end townehomes line parts of the courses and a gated entry completes the upscale appearance. One could say that Half Moon Bay and the Ritz are throwing down the gauntlet to challenge Pebble Beach. Inside, tall ceilings and wood abound. Copious amounts of plate glass provide for expansive ocean views from the restaurant and lounge area. This is not a place to go if you’re trying to save money. We had a window table with a great view. The restaurant was nearly full on this particular Sunday morning. Having been in the restaurant business in a prior life, I was looking about the entire restaurant. Among the guests, I noticed a lone diner in his late 30’s or early 40’s at a corner table. Being only 2 tables away I could see his face relatively well even though he wore sunglasses. He was joined by an older gentleman later in the meal and removed his sunglasses as they greeted each other. “That looks like Pierce Brosnan!” I thought to myself. As I glanced his way to get a better look, we made fleeting eye contact and he put his sunglasses back on. When our server came to refill our coffee, I asked “Do you have celebrities in the hotel today?” She nodded yes with a smile and a wink. “Is that Pierce Brosnan over there?” Again she nodded and said “we’re not supposed to say anything”. I wondered aloud if I should approach him for an autograph or just leave the guy alone. I’m usually sympathetic towards celebrities for enduring such lack of privacy. My wife didn’t seem to care one way or another, but was interested and recalled that he had been on the cover of an older issue of Cigar Aficionado. I had brought along a Cuban Partagas Lusitanias and an R & J Exhibition #3, intending to smoke one of them after breakfast. “If I asked him for an autograph and gave him a couple of good smokes, he might not think of me so badly,” I rationalized to myself. I decided to give it a try. They looked like they were preparing to leave so I had to move quickly. I only had my valet parking ticket to have Mr. Brosnan autograph, but it would have to do. I approached the table somewhat tentatively and asked, “Are you the actor Pierce Brosnan?”. “That I am,” he quickly replied with an inquiring expression. “And this is my father-in-law, Mr. Smith.” “Could I trouble you for an autograph?” I asked. “Sure,” he said reaching for the valet ticket and pen I held out to him. I had laid my traveldor, a lacquered Puros Indios box, on the table while handing the movie star the ticket and pen. “Are you here to golf?” asked Mr. Brosnan. “No, I just came with my wife to enjoy a nice breakfast and the view,” I replied as I gestured towards our table. The star looked over and gave a little wave and smile to my wife. Eyeing my traveldor, his father-in-law inquired, “Can I take a look at your cigars?” “A perfect opening!” I thought to myself. “Sure”, I replied as I opened the box. “As a matter of fact, I have a Cuban Partagas Lusitanias and a Romeo & Julieta Exhibition #3 for you, if you enjoy a good cigar.” As I said this, I put the bag with the cigars on the table between them. Mid sentence after the word “Lusitanias”, I heard the actor utter a little “Wow” with a bit of a surprised expression. Pierce and his father-in-law both broke into a grin. “What is your name?” Pierce asked me as he began to write on the small ticket. “Rob Shibata,” I replied. “I’m in the flower business in this area,” I added. “What’s the name of your business?” the father-in-law asked? “Mt. Eden Floral Company; we grow and wholesale flowers,” I replied. The father-in-law stood up and shook my hand saying that his wife had a flower business and that she was a Mt. Eden customer! I think Pierce Brosnan was just as surprised as I was, but then the movie star stood up and shook hands with me also. “WOW!” I thought. Pierce said that they were going to play a round of golf and certainly appreciated the cigars. I asked if he wanted me to cut the cigars for him and he replied, “I think I’ve got a cutter, thanks”. We exchanged a few more words, shook hands again and I returned to my table with my prized valet ticket. My wife excitedly asked, “What were you guys talking about all that time?” I recounted the story as we left the restaurant. Since the morning chill was still evident, my wife enjoyed the ocean view from the warmth of the lounge and a hot pot of tea. I picked a spot on the patio with my back to the hotel overlooking one of the greens and the ocean beyond. I still had a Griffins Piramides maduro left to enjoy since I had no more Havanas. As I enjoyed my smoke, I watched the ocean and reflected on the events of the morning. The hypnotic effect of the rolling seas caused my mind to drift to other thoughts. I was enjoying the moment and the creation of a great memory.

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