December 19, 2009
I ran into Owen Wilson on Cahuenga.
Owen Wilson, I said, stopping short.
Hey man, he said, how’s it going? Are there are a lot of cops around here?
Cops? I said.
I was kind of concerned.
Like, what do you mean? I said.
Cops, he said. You know, police. I don’t know if I can park my car here.
I turned and looked and Owen Wilson’s car was parked right in the middle of the sidewalk.
Oh, I said. Well, I don’t know. I mean, I wouldn’t do that.
No? he said.
He looked at the car.
I won’t be very long, he said.
Well, I said. I don’t know. I just wouldn’t, is all.
But in the end Owen Wilson didn’t listen.
Thanks, man, he said to me.
It’s okay, I said. I hope you don’t get towed.
Me too, he said, and walked away.
I don’t know what happened to Owen Wilson’s car. It was a red car. I don’t remember what kind.
A few days later I heard he’d tried to kill himself.
But I guess everything worked out fine.
I saw Forest Whitaker driving on Franklin. He cut me off in a big SUV.
Fuck you! I yelled, and sped up to catch him.
I hadn’t seen who was driving.
Then I did.
Oh, I said, Forest Whitaker.
He had that funny eye, you know.
I don’t remember which eye it was.
I remember thinking, Maybe he can’t see so well.
I used to be in a band where the drummer wore an eye patch. He’d lost an eye in a car accident. He’d had a lot of facial reconstructive surgery. He looked like Sammy Davis Jr., which was funny. (He was a white guy.)
Maybe it’s a thing about one-eyed people that makes them really bad drivers. I mean obviously there’s the depth perception thing. But maybe there’s also something else. Maybe it’s an angry-at-the-world thing that happens. Takes over. Makes you wanna kill people. But really, our drummer was always very nice. So Forest Whitaker was probably just an asshole.
One day I went to Barney’s and bought a shirt. Don’t ask me what I was doing. $750 dollars for a shirt? Okay, actually I found a cheap one.
Anyway, I was standing there on line– it was a big line, there was only one cashier– and suddenly I noticed that Spock was in front of me.
Wow, it’s Spock! I said.
When I say I said it, I mean in my head, because he didn’t hear me or anything. He was standing there with a whole bunch of shirts on his arm.
His were the thousand dollar ones.
Anyway, we stood there and stood there and stood there. There was something with the guy at the front. He didn’t know how to work his wallet or something.
I didn’t care– it was like I was Spock’s friend!
Spock was pretty old and his ears weren’t pointy.
Leonard Nee-moy, I thought, trying it out.
It was weird to say his real name and not just Spock.
Then I heard a voice calling out.
I can help one of you over here! the voice said.
It was a cashier at a register to the side. There was no one on line. There was no wait at all.
Spock looked at me. I looked at him.
I moved first. I admit it, I’m an asshole. I’m the Forest Whitaker in this story. I skipped away with my one cheap shirt.
Then I laughed at Spock inside my head.
When I tell this story to people they smile.
Weren’t you worried about the Vulcan neck pinch? they say.
But to tell you the truth, it never crossed my mind.
It was just Leonard Nimoy; Spock’s pretend.
I saw Robin Williams at the Virgin Megastore. He was looking at the DVD new releases. I was standing on the other side and I looked up. I saw him. And I saw him see me.
Let me be clear: Robin Williams looked like shit. I love Robin Williams, but he did. He was skinny and unshaven and his skin was almost gray. He was wearing an old army jacket.
The worst thing about it was he looked so sad.
Robin Williams! I wanted to say. You’re so funny!
But he didn’t look funny. He didn’t, at all. He looked like he might crumble away.
For a minute I just stood there and tried to decide how to go about saving Robin Williams’s life.
Maybe I could buy him an omelet or something, I thought.
I couldn’t think of anything else.
But then it was over. Robin Williams walked away. He walked slowly, casually– he was scared. I knew that he was trying to get away from me.
He was in the corner where the video games were.
I knew that Robin Williams wasn’t buying video games. His hands were in his pockets and he was old. I mean, I’m old and he’s older than me. We’re lucky they allow us in the store.
I stood there for a while, while he let off this vibe that said PLEASE GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME. I guess he just wanted to be left alone so he could wander around town looking glum.
And so in the end I turned away, bought my CDs, and went out to the car.
On the way home I started to cry.
If Robin Williams can’t be happy, how can I?
One night really late I went down to Ralph’s. This was when I lived up in West Hollywood. I had my loaf of bread, my diet Coke, a bunch of Slim Jims.
I got in line behind a beautiful woman.
I don’t know where the guy is, she said.
The cashier guy wasn’t there. No one was.
He’ll probably be back, I said. He can’t be far.
Then I got a better look at her.
Hey, I said. Do I know you? You look really familiar.
Yeah, she said, I get that a lot.
Then I realized.
Demi Moore, I thought. What’s she doing here? At Ralph’s in Hollywood at 3 a.m.?
This was back when she and Bruce Willis were together.
I looked around, but I didn’t see him.
This is crazy, she said. I’ve been here forever. And all I’m trying to buy is this.
She held up an Evian bottle and waved it a little.
I smiled to be nice and shook my head.
If you want, I said, suddenly having an idea, give me the money and I’ll pay for it when he gets back.
Are you sure? she said. That’s really very nice.
It’s okay, I said. I don’t mind.
And so Demi Moore gave me a five, and walked on out into the night. And I stood there a while until the cashier came back, and I paid for my own stuff and kept the five.