Writing Exercise: Family Stories, Family Myths

I don’t have any lore or fables attached to my family history.  However, I’ve heard the story of when my wife’s grandfather was mistaken for a famous celebrity.

The exercise asked me to write a story based on a family tale that gets retold a lot. The story was supposed to be in letter form, but I got a little carried away with this one.  I hope you like it.



You’ve probably heard the story of Sean Connery.

Not THE Sean Connery, or even the Bond character he portrays in the movies.  I’m talking about my grandfather, the man who looks like Sean Connery, I think. Or at least, the man an entire store thought really was Sean Connery.

We went to an auto store after a brief stint with the Nissan in the garage. He said one of the radiator hoses was busted, and it wasn’t going to take long or cost a whole lot of money to grab one. I don’t know much about cars, but he certainly does, as you already know. He spends a lot of time with cars apart from his 10-hour a day job at the manufacturing plant downtown, and he’s always in the garage with his head under the hood until dinner.

He called ahead to Dan’s Parts, his regular supplier, but to his great disappointment he discovered they didn’t have the part he needed, so he ended up at AutoZone on Pelandale Ave. which made him about as uncomfortable as a Mormon in a mosque. His discomfort wouldn’t be alleviated anytime soon, because he found himself pacing aisles of parts with seemingly no organization.

“Look, these aren’t even radiator hoses over here! Gosh.”

I suggested he ask for some help, which he stubbornly refused.

“I’ll find it myself.  Don’t you think I know what the hose looks like?”

It took him about four more minutes to scratch his head repeatedly, interpret the faulty categorization system, and fumble through a few different hoses to finally discover what he was looking for all along. Content with his find, we proceeded to the checkout.

“Hey, you Sean Connery!” An Asian man, in his mid-fifties, stopped and gawked at my grandfather. The brief gentleman looked like he was about to point at him, but hesitated. “Yes, you!”
“Excuse me?”
“Yes, you! You Sean Connery!” His face was terribly serious, as if he’d just seen Jesus Christ Himself. In some circles, this could be the case; you’re either a James Bond worshiper, or you don’t know the difference between Timothy Dalton and Roger Daltrey.

My grandfather was frozen there. I think we were in the aisle with the floor mats , right before it opens up to the registers. I’m still not certain if he was flattered or terrified, but he wasn’t speaking, and he had an expression of utmost disbelief.

“Hey, it’s Sean Connery!” The man now turned his attention to another Asian woman, presumably his wife, and another woman accompanying her, who instantly became overjoyed in the presence of a familiar celebrity. The latter raised both hands to her face, covering part of her mouth on each side, lips slightly parted but eyes wide open.

“Really?” She said. She moved her hands down to her chin, then turned away briefly, turning back with a hand offered to my grandfather.

At this point, other patrons in the store as well as both idle register sentries began to pay attention to the scene unfolding.  The first man was looking for a camera in his satchel, or perhaps something for the newly christened celebrity to sign his name.  Grandpa reluctantly shook the woman’s hand, still taken aback by how quickly this was all going.  He still had the hose in his other hand, but it appeared the auto part was forgotten.

“No, I believe you’re mistaken.”
“No, no.  You Sean Connery!”
“Yes! Sean Connery!  You know, James Bond?” One of the women pointed a finger gun at the other, then at me, and fired a couple of shots, standing with her feet apart like a good actor. They all laughed.  About five people did, in fact.

“I don’t think so.”
“You’re not telling us on purpose. Who are you?”
“My name is Bill.”
“Bill?” The man shook his head quickly. “I don’t believe you. Why you not telling us the truth of who you are?” The last question sounded more like a statement.
“I am telling you the truth.  I am definitely not Sean Connery.”
“Ohhhh.” He seemed disappointed at first, but not repentant. The man was certainly convinced, and he wouldn’t be shaken off by grandpa’s denial. “Where do you live?”
“Sir, I’m not telling you where–”
“Where do you live?” His second question came across as hostile. He was determined to get to the bottom of this.
“It’s none of your business, sir.”
“It IS my business.  You celebrity from Hollywood. You don’t have secrets.”
“I do have secrets, and you are not entitled to know where I live.”
“No… ohhh, so Sean Connery DO have secrets.” The other two ladies nodded in agreement.
“Yes, Sean Connery has secrets.  I’d like to get home now, so excuse me.”

His spell removed, my grandfather headed toward the register again, placing the hose on the counter.  His admirers, however, followed him to the line, but this time at a short distance. Without a word, the counter person scanned the hose. In fact, no one spoke at all. It appeared the episode had finally subsided, and we’d be on our way back to the house.

As we exited the store, however, the Asian man and the two ladies continued trailing us to the car, though at an increasing distance. My grandfather seemed determined to get to the vehicle and didn’t really notice their presence.  I took a couple of glances back myself, noticing that their faces were becoming more serious by the second.

We had reached the car when things started to change. “Mr. Connery!” the man shouted.  “May I have your autograph?” His party stood still, maybe fifty feet from us, in a fighter plane formation. This was when my grandfather grabbed my hand firmly and looked me dead in the eye.

“Get in the car.”

I didn’t hesitate to open the passenger door and slide into the seat, immediately shutting myself in.  I looked outside.

You’d probably think what happened next is unbelievable, based on what you already know about grandpa, but I’m telling you the truth.

He’s always had a bad back, but grandpa somehow stood upright once again and demonstrated incredible agility, perhaps that of someone twenty years younger, reaching in his back pocket for what appeared to be a firearm and darting off to the right behind another car. The group had already brandished firearms of their own and started shooting at the car, at Bill, though I was beginning to question his identity already.

From the left, four other individuals began rushing straight at him, surprising him before he could turn his gun in their direction. Nonetheless, in a dramatic display of technique and force, grandpa skillfully subdued and knocked out each of the new pursuers, using martial art skills I have never seen duplicated.

Turning back to the others, who had spread out across the parking lot, grandpa quickly dispatched two of them with three shots, the third running toward another vehicle. Grandpa took the opportunity to run back to the car and climb in.

“Do not tell your mother what you just saw,” he said as he tossed the hose into the back seat and pulled his seatbelt over his shoulder.  “Do you understand?”

I nodded slightly, still shocked by what I’d just witnessed. With great calm and control, he put the car in reverse, backed out of the parking spot, and proceeded out of the lot.

After the hose had been replaced, grandpa said he was tired, but grandma had some dessert ready for us if I wanted to stick around and visit for a little bit longer.  I complied.

We didn’t say much during dessert, as you might imagine.  Grandma asked a few questions, but I gave short answers, biting my tongue several times to avoid revealing too much.  I wondered if she knew already, but I hesitated to ask her anything. I planned to eat as quickly as I could, then politely excuse myself.

“Did anything happen at the store today?”

I nearly choked on the crust, then swallowed. “Some…some people started asking for his autograph. They thought he was–”

“Sean Connery?” she interrupted.  “Oh ho ho, I’ve heard that one before.”

“Yeah,” I chuckled, “They wouldn’t leave him alone. They followed him out to the parking lot.”

She put down her fork. “Oh.  Well, they didn’t give Bill any trouble, did they?”

I looked down at my pie, then back up at her. She stared at me coldly, very similarly to the look grandpa had given me just before he told me to get back in the car.

“No… not really.”

“Oh.” She proceeded to wipe her face off with her napkin. “That’s good. I’m glad you guys had a good time.” She smirked, pushing her fork into the pie for another bite.

“Thanks, grandma.”

Besides the pleasantries involved with leaving the house, we didn’t say much else. I drove home wondering what I’d seen, but I haven’t told anyone else but yourself.  I know it sounds completely ridiculous, but hopefully this clears up any confusion about the incident.

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