On September 3, 2003 I was living in an apartment in Santa Monica, California.
On that PARTICULAR night I was playing E. T.: The Extraterrestrial on Atari and wishing that I had gone to Disneyland that day. See, just a few hours earlier I had been trying to decide where to eat dinner. I wanted to take the trip to Anaheim, but no one wanted to go with me.
So I settled for some Subway sandwiches and Atari.
These details are not important; I'm just padding the story.
Later I received a call from a friend who proceeded to talk about God-knows-what before ending the call with "oh, by the way, I heard Mr. T is on Jimmy Kimmel this week."
How did I not know this? Mr. T! The toughest man in the world was 20 minutes away and NOBODY told me.
I shut off the Atari and we headed to Hollywood.
I parked the car in the $10 Highland parking lot for $10. This bit of information isn't really padding. See, normally I would look for street parking for a buck an hour or I would park a couple blocks down on Cahuenga for $1.50 for 3 hours. The Highland lot is for suckers.
I didn't care about being a sucker, I knew that lot would be half empty and that I could park and get across the street QUICKLY.
So I turned off Hollywood Blvd. and into parked my car in the lot.
Did you know that the first indications of constructed roads date from about 4000 BC? Sure there was not parking until... alright maybe this is too much padding.
I paid and went to the El Capitan Theater. This complex is owned by Disney and home to Jimmy Kimmel Live. I had never seen the show live and I had only seen it on TV a couple of times. Still, I knew they start taping around that time of night AND they often solicit pedestrians to go to the taping.
I walked around the building wearing my blue Mr. T T-shirt hoping to find someone that would let me in.
I didn't exactly have a plan yet, but I had some visions of finding a weak and timid man and taking his tickets. Or a woman, I could probably steal tickets from a woman. If she was small and DIDN'T have a purse.
I have seen Ruth Buzzi hit men with her purse. I never want that to happen to me.
Luckily it didn't come to that. An intern out front asked me if I wanted to go to the show commenting "Mr. T is on tonight" as she saw my shirt.
Soon we were seated in the back of the theater. It is a pretty large audience as TV shows go, and we were WAAAAAAY in the back.
About 10 minutes before show time a man in a headset came and asked me how many were in my party. I told him.
So he went up to the front of the theater and made a group of old people get up and switch seats with us.
SUCKERS! I bet they parked at Highland, too!
Then, moments before show time I saw a door open a little bit on the stage. In the small space I could see Mr. T's hand. It was easy to recognize with the two giant gold and diamond rings on his fingers. His hand seemed to point at me. Then another hand appeared clearly pointing at me. Or the lady in front of me. But let her write her own story.
Then a cameraman came over and stood next to me. He pointed the camera at me, but said nothing.
The show started. Twenty minutes went by. Jimmy did a monologue and a staged skit. The camera man kept pointing the camera.
Then Jimmy introduced Mr. T. Mr. T came out wearing the SAME shirt as me. I have about 10 different shirts with Mr. T on them, so how cool is that! Anyway Mr. T's interview ended the cameraman leaned over and whispered in my ear "When we go to commercial, I want you to pose with your shirt for the camera."
I nodded to signify that I understood, but truly, I didn't.
Pose with my shirt? Like one of those Madonna "Vogue" poses? Or should I pose like Hulk Hogan and then rip the shirt off. Or, would it be good to remove the shirt and point at it, like when Vanna poses with the letters on Wheel of Fortune.
So many ways to pose.
Well, the break came soon and he pointed at me for me to "pose."
So I pointed at the shirt, gave a thumbs up, pointed again and then gave pointed up the "our team is #1 gesture" and then I pointed for a third time.
At this point I realized that I did not know any other gestures that were not obscene so I just shook my fist.
That night I watched the tape and there I was shaking my fist and pointing. I wish I had done the thumbs up again. Oh, well. On TV I just kinda looked like one of those crazy angry sports fans. Only more sober.
The best thing was that the camera slowly faded from Mr. T to me, so for a split second me and Mr. T were on TV together.
Mr. T was the co-host so he came back on stage several times during the night. At one point during a break I made eye contact with him. He pointed at me and shouted "My man, come here!"
So I walked towards him and a security guard stepped between us and started to push me back (just crowd control, not violently.) Mr. T then pushed the security guard out of the way and shook hands with me.
"They told me you were out there with my shirt on. I was hoping I would get to say 'hi'" he said.
I babbled something incoherent back to him about how cool he was and then shook hands and walked away.
This was not the first time I had met Mr. T, but I was still awestruck around him. I have never been awestruck around other celebrities, either. But, hey, Mr. T is way cool.
After the show I saw a line where the 'autograph hounds' hang out. I waited with them until Mr. T came out. He was out soon after and stopped to sign a bunch of autographs and take photos.
I took one with him, but at the time I was using a digital camera that would take FOREVER to take a photo. The photo I ended up with looked like most of the photos that camera took: people staring at the camera with a puzzled look on their faces.
"Did it take the picture already?"
"Is the camera broken?"
"Maybe it has a dead battery?"
Any of these quotes could be in a thought bubble above our heads.
Maybe I prefer the photo of me shaking my fist and pointing.