It was a chance thing.
Are those two, the same thing?
I think of chance being more magical than a coincidence.
The magical does not necessarily have to be good however.
Anyway, I had not seen this actor in about a decade at this point.
Then, one Friday night we literally ran into each other in a Vegas hotel lobby.
Hugs were exchanged and then he showed me that he is in massively better shape than me and proceeded to remind me of it for the next three hours.
The smiles and hugs were genuine.
We might not go looking for each other, but when we see each other we have that bond that can only be shared with a few other people from our past. It was back in the day.
He was a friend of a friend.
It was midnight and we were on the grounds of a miniature golf course.
The golf course was the site of a weekly contest.
A handful of us would get together and drink beer and play golf for $20 a hole.
That was a ton of money to me at the time.
It was a ton of money to everyone who played except for the guy who brought the future actor.
The guy who brought the actor was a friend of mine.
Not a great friend, but a friend.
He was always willing to gamble at anytime and anyplace.
In the years since, I don’t know what happened to him and the actor doesn’t either.
They lost touch years ago after the person that introduced us asked for money one too many times.
Anyway, there we were.
Playing for more money than any of us wanted to play for.
We did so because it made everyone treat it more seriously.
We had fun, but everyone wanted to win.
I usually ended up breaking even.
I never won.
Once or twice I ended up losing $40 or $60.
After we played, someone had the key to inside the building and we would drink more and play video games for free.
It was the third or fourth time the actor played that summer with us that a group of guys in a big pickup truck pulled into the parking lot.
Confederate flag flying, they would have been more at home at a KKK rally.
Did I mention our future actor is African American?
And the friend that introduced us.
There were two other guys besides myself who were also there and white.
We had all been walking out to our cars when the group pulled in and started doing donuts in the parking lot which kept us from getting to our cars.
Even if we could have managed to get to them, there was no way we could have driven off.
They stopped doing donuts and when they got out of the truck, there were 7 or 8 of them.
I knew we were out numbered.
Two of them had some tire chains.
This whole scene was so unreal.
This stuff happened in movies, and not in a parking lot of a batting cage/golf course/video arcade place.
It turns out this was not a random thing.
The guy who introduced me to the future actor had won some bets from the guys and they were not good losers.
They told me and the other two white guys we could leave.
It doesn’t work that way.
None of us were going to leave our friends.
I was just wondering how badly I was going to be beaten.
Tire chains would probably leave a mark.
I remember that I wanted one of the guys who didn’t have a tire chain.
I think we all did.
When the guys from the truck came charging, the guys with the tire chains were left alone because we all went after the others.
I fully expected to get a tire chain in the back or back of the head.
It didn’t happen.
About five minutes into this melee, a police car pulled into the parking lot and turned on its lights and sirens.
The first thing the policeman saw were the guys holding the tire chains.
He told them to put them down and to get down on their knees.
He called for backup.
There were no partners in cars at that time.
Before his backup got there, he pretty much had the whole story.
No one was going to get in trouble for the fight.
There was barely any blood, and even if there had been, no one was going to get in trouble unless the chains had been used.
The guy who introduced me to our actor did have a warrant out for his arrest though and ended up going to jail.
This posed a problem for the future A+ list mostly movie actor because the guy was his ride and he lived about an hour away from where we were.
I took him back to my place.
Even though he only lived an hour away, that world an hour away was integrated in name only.
I guess that is why the bond never goes away.
As much as he thought we might be friends, I don’t think he expected me or the other guys to not only stick up for him but to fight for him.
Then, to invite him to spend the night and what actually turned out to be three nights.
After that encounter in the parking lot, one thing that did happen is that the late night use of the facilities was off limits.
No more gambling or free video games.
Our actor, who is an Academy Award winner/nominee, I didn’t see for several years afterwards.
It was a one night thing we had planned on a Halloween night.
After that, it was probably six years before we saw each other again.
That night was just because of some mutual friends of his that he worked with on a television show and some mutual friends of me.
The person in the middle was an actress and a movie premiere.
It would not be until Vegas that we would see each other again and like he said, we definitely had a party. You can read about it tomorrow.
In the lobby, our actor friend asked why I was in town.
I told him I had some tickets to a show later that night.
He then informed me he was playing in that same show and was sure he could get me better tickets, including to an auction that was happening earlier.
When I asked him about the auction he said that even he could barely afford the prices that would be seen.
It was a charity gig.
The auction items were truly one of a kind celebrity type things and true to his word, most of them started the bidding in the $100K range.
During the day we had lunch together and got caught up before he went to a sound check.
He told me to stop by because there was someone special who was going to be there he knew I loved.
Sure enough, when I dropped by, there was an old friend there.
She had just released her first record about a year or so earlier and was within days of releasing her second record.
I had seen her the week before in LA and she never told me she was doing this show.
She said it literally came up the day before when someone else dropped out.
Her first record went double platinum.
Let me check that.
Yes, it did.
Honestly though I couldn’t remember the sales of the second record and had to look it up.
She has over a double handful of Grammy wins/nominations and one heck of a name.
One thing that sticks out at me about that night is she was introduced to a permanent A+ list musician who loved her work and almost a decade later they worked together based solely on their mutual admiration from that night.
Did I tell you that she enjoys making sure everyone has enough to drink?
Yeah, she got that party started for me that night.
By the time the auction started I had to go to slow down mode or I would be passed out by the show.
The show itself was one of a kind.
It literally had every combination of performer, singer and comic you could imagine.
After the show, I went backstage and the first person I saw was someone I had not seen in a long time.
A guy well over 7 feet tall who I had a history with when he was much younger.
Now, he was passing out shots and telling me to drink.
For about two hours after the show, this backstage area had everyone and no one wanted to leave.
It was this combination like I said of some very special people and they were enjoying being with each other.
I think they were afraid if one left, the spell would be broken.
The guy who was kind of leading the charge and keeping everyone together was the one guy who was not drinking anything but bottled water.
He was a permanent A+ list comedian/actor/Academy Award winner/nominee.
Just one story after the other and each one was more dirty than the last.
There was nothing even close to PG about his material, it was closer to NC-17.
My actor friend played his straight man for much of it when not sitting at a piano with this foreign born permanent A+ list singer/musician singing song after song.
The two played for another foreign born permanent A+ list singer who sang some of his classics before giving way to a Canadian singer who was just making a name for himself and is now an A- lister.
A+ list at cheating.
One interesting dynamic was the comic actor I mentioned who was best friends with another foreign born permanent A+ list musician who was there.
Apparently they even flew together to the show and hung out all the time.
A very strange combination.
For two hours it was just one big fun sing along party.
If it had been recorded it would have been the highest rated variety show ever to air.
Instead, there are a couple of photos and maybe someone took a quick 30 second video here and there, and the rest is lost to memories.
When the party started to break up, my actor friend and I and my singing friend all went to dinner together.
Just the three of us.
That night generally is in my top five celebrity nights of all time.
Event: The Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation’s 7th Grand Slam for Children – September 2002
Friend: Jamie Foxx
Old Female Friend (recording artist): India Arie
A+ Legend she met/recorded together a decade later: Carlos Santana (those two recorded “While My Guitar Gently Weeps in 2012)
Guy well over 7 feet tall: Shaquille O’Neal
Permanent A+ List Comedian/Actor leading show: Robin Williams
Foreign Born A+ singer/Musician at piano: Elton John
Other Foreign Born A+ singer: Rod Stewart
Canadian “Cheater” just getting started: Michael Buble
Other Foreign Born A+ Musician (friend of Williams): David Foster
Read more on these Tags: Carlos Santana, David Foster, Elton John, India Arie, Jamie Foxx, Michael Bublé, Robin Williams, Rod Stewart, Shaquille O'Neal