As fun as it was to meet all these famous people, every now and again I became self conscious because I wasn't famous myself. The last thing a mildly retarded Punchman needs is another reason to feel down about himself.
Though really, I shouldn't have worried much about it, because I found not a small number of people in L.A., people who lived, ate and breathed Hollywood, who were fascinated by me and my life because I just had a regular nine-to-five job. Something completely alien to them. I remember one conversation I had with a woman at a party:
"So, like, what do you DO?"
"I'm a computer consultant for a publishing firm."
"Wow. So what IS that?"
"Well, I visit customers who use our products to make sure everything works, and I get them to install upgrades and that sort of thing."
"Ok dude, I am like totally tripping....do you like, have an OFFICE or something?"
"Yes, I am in an office when I'm not visiting customers."
"Oh my GOD, I can't even IMAGINE...."
The fact that I didn't get screamed at regularly or that I had never been fired for forgetting to put two sugars in somebody's coffee was a completely foreign concept to this woman.
One time at a party I met a guy who worked on the "Larry Sanders Show." We kind of hit it off, and spent much of the evening talking together. I was upfront about the fact that I had never seen his show, so at the end of the night he invited me to come over to watch a few episodes sometime.
"I'd love to, thanks!" I replied.
A few days later this guy called and instead of inviting me over, asked if I wanted to go to the movies.
"Sure! What would you like to see?"
He went through some song & dance about how he needed to go see "The Secret Garden" because someone he knew had worked on it and he's promised he'd take a look - or something to that effect, because as you know I don't really listen to anything a person says when I'm slightly nervous, as I was here.
In any event, I agreed on "The Secret Garden" and told him to pick me up at 5:30 - and that I would find out where it was playing. After we hung up I looked in the paper and saw it was playing at the "Beverly Center" at 5:45. Perfect.
D.E. (his initials) picked me up at 5:30 and drove us over to the theater, which was on the top floor of a shopping mall- so it took a few minutes to get up to the ticket booth. STRIKE ONE: We arrived at the booth only to find that the movie was not playing there at all.
"Oops...." I said. "It must be at the Beverly CONNECTION...." (the theater across the street.)
He let out one of those polite laughs, the kind you use when you are slightly annoyed but want to show what a good sport you are.
We rode the mall escalators down five floors to exit the building, after which we crossed the street to go over to the other theater. It was about 5:43 when we approached the ticket counter. I took out my wallet to discover I had no cash with me. STRIKE TWO.
I swear, I have no idea how people lived before ATM machines."Um, D, I'm afraid you're going to have to pay for my ticket," I said. "I'll have to go to an ATM after the movie to pay you back."
This time he looked downright annoyed - probably not because he had to pay for the movie, but because I was obviously a complete dingbat AND totally unprepared for the date. Oh, well.
After the movie we wanted to get something to eat. "Ever been to El Coyote?" I asked him.
"No, I haven't. But I've heard about that place and always wanted to try it." So off we went! I could feel the evening was about to improve.
Now I already told you in Part 1 or Part 2 of this series that whenever I brought someone to El Coyote for the first time, I would launch into my little story about how I hoped to see Carol Burnett there because my boss had sat next to her there once. Et cetera.
Something told me to hold off on that with this guy, though. He seemed like he might be a little too famous, or a little too connected to famous, to think this story was cute. He would probably find it annoying, or maybe even slightly stalkerish.
Thank God a Punchman knows how to follow his instincts.
As soon as we were seated and sipping on our drinks (he on an iced tea and I on a margarita, under what I detected as a subtle air of disapproval from him) we started talking about where we were from. I told him I hailed from the Upper Midwest, and he was also from somewhere "back East."
To Californians, anything East of the state line is referred to as "back East." They're almost as bad as New Yorkers that way."So what brought you out to L.A.?" I asked, as the obvious next question in any conversation of this nature.
"I was working on a TV movie with Carol Burnett."
Although I was glad I'd had sense enough to hold back on my stupid "I hope we see Carol Burnett!!" story, I was mortified at the possibility that I very well could have shared that with him. I was also mortified that I was not famous enough to be there with him. I felt completely worthless.
Telling my Carol Burnett story would surely have been STRIKE THREE except that it didn't matter: the evening ended shortly after dinner, D.E. having refused my invitation to stop up for a cup of coffee.
And he never called me again.
...... to be continued ....................