For a long period of time, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason were regular guests on The Prairie Home Companion. Jay and Molly happen to be family friends, and they are particularly close with my brother David who lives near them. Many years ago David and his then-fiance Devi came out to Minnesota to visit me, and they coordinated their visit with one of Jay and Molly's appearances on Prairie Home.
We had good complimentary seats. In fact, I sat next to Norm Coleman who is now an icky Senator from Minnesota but at the time was merely the icky Mayor of St. Paul. After the show we went backstage and while we were chatting with Jay and Molly in their dressing room, Garrison poked his head in to invite Jay and Molly out to the post-show cast dinner. Jay and Molly thanked him but said they had guests, at which point Garrison poked his head further into the room, turned to me and David and Devi, and graciously invited us to join him and the cast for dinner. We looked to Jay and Molly to be sure this was more than a politeness, and they somehow indicated it was so we accepted.
There were over twenty of us at a fancy restaurant in St. Paul called Tulips. Early into the meal a few bottles of good wine appeared on the table by magic, courtesy Garrison but you had to figure that out. Garrison was pleasant and entertaining and empathetic and had some interesting stories about dealing with bigtime television producers and it was a very nice time. When it came time to ask for the check the server told us that it had been taken care of, at which point I noticed that Garrison had snuck out.
This was a fairly generous gesture, of several hundred dollars at least, and I was amazed. One of the show's staff members said that Garrison likes to do that, but only if he can do it without calling any attention to himself in the process. He had been very clever about sneaking off and paying as if he were just casually going to the rest room or something.
And so I think it's quite legitimately true to say that Garrison Keillor bought me dinner one night. Me, plus about two dozen others.