O.J. and Me 

A brush with notoriety and the souvenir that disappeared.

click to enlarge news49_oj_100.jpg

I heard the crowd before I saw him.

"O.J.!" "Hey, it's O.J.!" People waved and craned their necks.

"Killer," some whispered. "Killer."

"Did you find the real killer yet?" one man asked.

We were standing in the Bahamas airport in July 2003, in a customs line that approached Kings Dominion proportions. My now-husband and I, along with a few dozen other Richmonders, were heading back home from a five-day vacation — one of those package deals, direct from Richmond International. It had been a lovely few days of sand and sun, marred only by a rum-breathed time-share pusher and hotel towels that smelled oddly like bacon.

The highlight of the trip, it turned out, would be in the airport.

There he was, standing at the ticket counter, accompanied by a beefy bodyguard and a beautiful blonde. I had never before seen anyone provoke such mingled awe and revulsion. He surely heard the "Killer! Killer!" chorus — but he seemed unfazed. He grinned at everyone and pumped some hands.

"Go on," said the woman next to me. "Get your picture taken with him."

Waiting in line, we'd fallen into conversation with her and her husband, a nice Richmond couple returning from their first kid-free vacation in years. "Go on," she repeated, nudging me.

"I used up all my film," I said. I wasn't sure I wanted to be that person anyway. You know, the one who thrusts herself through a crowd to stand next to O.J. Simpson.

"Come on!" she said. "I'll take it." She took my hand. We ducked under the line ropes and there he was. I hung back, unsure of how to approach. Then he saw me.

"Hello, sweetheart," O.J. said.

He put his arm around my shoulders. The camera flashed. I disentangled myself and dashed back to my place in line.

Me and O.J.! He called me sweetheart! How weird!

I thanked the woman effusively and wrote down my address for her. "We'll send it," she promised. I would frame it, I thought. I would send it to friends. I would make a holiday card out of it: "Have a Killer Christmas."

A month went by, and another. Maybe they forgot to get their film developed, I thought. Maybe they lost our address. I had mentioned I worked at Style Weekly; maybe one day, O.J. would show up there. He never did.

Three years went by. It was for the best, I told myself. I had made a fool out of myself by running up to him. I got my picture taken with Ronald McDonald at the Watermelon Festival. And I forgot all about O.J.

That is, until a few weeks ago, when his "If I Did It" book and interview were announced, denounced and canceled — and now, I've heard, are being quietly renegotiated. It's funny. People condemn it. But people will watch. Just like in the airport.

I don't like the guy. I won't read his book. I don't want to watch him tiptoe a legal tightrope on TV.

But I will confess: Man, I still want that picture of O.J. and me. S

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