August 19, 2012
When Rod Thompson slipped on his Aerosmith T-shirt Aug. 12, he had no idea the band’s lead guitarist, Joe Perry, would darken the doorway of his family’s Bainbridge cheesecake shop that evening.
The odds of such an encounter must be astronomical, right? Apparently not.
A barefooted Perry strode into Cheesecakes at Mystical Retreat that same day and proceeded to buy five slices of the cheesecake Rod and Sharon Thompson have dubbed “possibly” the world’s greatest.
Sharon Thompson offered Perry a sample, just as she does with every customer, and before she could return the plate of samples to the cooler case, the rock star was picking out various flavors with a decisiveness Thompson seldom hears from her customers.
Perry asked Thompson if there was a good place to grab dinner. She directed him across the street to Paxton Restaurant.
Paxton waitress Angie Bumgardner said the restaurant was busy when Perry and his wife came in to order several pulled-pork sandwiches to go.
Nevertheless, Bumgardner stopped and noticed the vaguely familiar customer wasn’t wearing any shoes or socks.
She turned to another waitress and said, “He looks like a Steven Tyler-kind of guy, and his bus looks awful fancy.”
Bumgardner wasn’t far off. Tyler, of course, is the lead singer for Aerosmith. She said she listened to plenty of rock bands in her day, including Aerosmith, but she seldom took notice of who was playing guitar.
Perry told Bumgardner they were traveling from Washington to Virginia for a make-up show on Sunday — the last stop on the first leg of the band’s Global Warming tour — and they wanted to take the scenic route, she said.
Meanwhile, across the street, Sharon Thompson had mistaken Perry for a different rocker, the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, as she tried to describe to her husband the man who had just visited their shop.
“I didn’t know who we was and I didn’t ask,” Thompson said. “I’m not a music person, but (Rod) is. I told him, ‘He looks like the lead guitarist of a famous rock band, maybe the Rolling Stones, but he looks younger (than Richards) and not so haggard.’”
It wasn’t long before Perry returned to Mystical Retreat, this time with his wife. The couple bought two more slices of cheesecake and spent about 20 minutes in the gift shop, looking through the Native American-themed items and happily chatting with the Thompsons’ 4-year-old granddaughter. Perry ended up buying a necklace and a dreamcatcher.
Rod Thompson, a diehard fan of Aerosmith since the 1970s, realized it was Perry — one of his all-time favorite guitar players.
“I walked in and saw him and I just had to give him a good hug,” he said.
Rod went upstairs and grabbed his Aerosmith records. He asked Perry whether he would sign one.
“Of course,” Perry said.
After signing one record, Perry motioned for another one. Pleasantly surprised, Rod asked, “You mean you’ll sign all of them?”
“Of course,” Perry said.
And when Rod requested a photo with Perry, he again answered, “Of course.”
“He was very, very gracious,” Sharon said.
She said she won’t be surprised if Rod starts wearing his Pink Floyd T-shirt on a regular basis.