There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of photos chronicling Sandra Bullock and Jesse James' last high-profile appearance together: the 2010 Oscars on March 7, where the actress and her husband of nearly five years celebrated her exhilarating career high.
But six days after the Academy Awards, a much smaller crowd spotted the couple at a more modest event: at a Wal-Mart meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas (the corporate headquarters for the global superstore company). The date was Saturday, March 13 -- just two days before Bullock, receiving word of James' reported infidelity -- allegedly moved out of their shared Huntington Beach, Calif. home.
An Arkansas woman posted a a TwitPic of a smiling Bullock, 45, and James, 40, at the event, writing, "LOVE them!"
Arkansas-based blog Ichabod explains "most of the biggest celebrities and best-known politicians come through town to speak at Wal-Mart meetings."
An onlooker at the meeting tells UsMagazine.com that Bullock "looked beautiful" in a casual jeans-and-shirt outfit as she addressed the the excited crowd.
Claiming that she hadn't slept since the Oscars, the star talked about how The Blind Side (and its real life subject Leigh Ann Tuohy) changed her life. The actress admitted that she went "numb" when her name was called as the Best Actress winner. "[She said] she wanted to reach down and hug Meryl Streep but her dress was so tight that she couldn't bend down that far--that was hilarious," the witness recalls.
Bullock then announced, "I have a surprise for you!" before ushering out James. "He came out and talked a little bit," the attendee says. "They looked totally in love and sweet. You [could] tell they adore each other...He was funny."
"Jesse spoke a little, kidding everyone here about being barefoot and playing banjos," blogger and fellow attendee Ichabod notes. "The crowd loved that." He adds, "Sandra and Jesse even helped lead the Wal-Mart cheer."
Bullock has been M.I.A. since that unexpected Wal-Mart appearance, canceling planned Blind Side red carpet appearances in London and Berlin. Her rep has denied recent reports that she has been interviewing divorce lawyers.
In a statement to UsMagazine.com, Jesse James says that much of the allegations against him are "untrue and unfounded," but then acknowledges vaguely: "There is only one person to blame for this whole situation, and that is me. ...This has caused my wife and kids pain and embarrassment beyond comprehension and I am extremely saddened to have brought this on them."
Although his wife has remained scarce, James has been seen out and about since last Thursday, flashing his wedding ring near his home, his kids' school and motorcycle shop.