Me on the corner, legs bunched up, between a couch where my back was pressed closely against the soft cushion in order to make as much room as possible for my leg not to hit the table. Engaged in fruitful conversation to my right, the giant gecko ducked through the door.
As I began seeing Pau Gasol's face on American TV, then hooping it up with the world Championship LA Lakers, I always thought to myself — and may have even uttered to those around — "dude, look like the Gieco gecko!"
But once I finally saw him, in person, just inches from me... confirmed: Dude does look like a long ass gecko.
There he was, he had just come through the back entrance of NoBu, which is this pretty tight spot in West Hollywood. Not that I had much of anything to say to him, I tend not to be the kind of person to get star struck. You know, the whole he puts his pants on feet first just like me, but this particular star gets to play for a living and get paid a lot to do so. But I digress. I had nothing to say to the odd looking and freakishly tall man — he stands all of 7' —, but I felt an instant brotherhood with the young man. For one, although much taller, there is a band of brotherhood for those of us who see over most of the crowd. Secondly, I also gained that feeling of connection by knowing Gasol was restlessly recovering from a hamstring injury and had yet to play in a regular season game. He had to sit and watch for the returning champs first 11 games. That can be more torturous than the actual injury. A torn hamstring is mostly what ended my collegiate track career.
Conversations continued as the gecko walked off to his seat somewhere else in the spot. Soon after we were interrupted by a returning party member; "Gabriel Union is in the other room."
My spitfire of a comedian-all-the-time friend with whom I have a diversity of connections decided he wanted to go see for himself. I mean after all, it's Gabriel Union. Which equals, mother of my baby material.
His return was quick.
Explaining his about face; "It just felt weird," he said. "You can't just go up and look."
What are you going to do? What are you going to say?
I sure could have thought of a few things, but that's not my style. So we continued to enjoy the company and conversation of our group.
When the gecko returned, on his way out, he stood before me prior to ducking under the doorway. He exchanged a few bruggs (that's bro hugs for the uninformed) with a few guys who were seemingly associates of some sort. They mostly resembled now-professional, yet reformed "frat boys," trying to up his coolness quotient by knowing Pau Gasol. As this scene continued to unfold I thought, maybe I will say something to the man whom I deem the gecko.
Maybe a, "Congrats on last year's championship. Good luck this year."
"Hope you get back in the game soon. Rest up the hammy."
But no; didn't want to join the scene. So he went.
The very next night, this same man made his season debut against the Chicago Bulls after sitting out 11 games with a hamstring injury. He had 24 points and 13 rebounds in a 108-93 victory over the Bulls.As this snapshot into my SoCal living concluded, I couldn't help but think about all the LA related songs I've heard over the years... "LA, LA, big city of dreams..." "Live and die in LA..." "We in LA, trick."
I made my way back to my car, which was parked at the Viceroy in Santa Monica. Long story. And there sat a Rolls Royce, presumably a Phantom. I have always wanted a Rolls Royce since first hearing of this brand of vehicle as a young boy. My grandfather's neighbor had an old school one and I wanted one, mostly because it rhymes with my name. However, upon inquiry about the one before me, it turned out to be the vehicle of David Duchovny, the producer, sometime director and maybe even part time writer for one of my new favorite shows, Californication. Rumor has it that he likes to hole up in this establishment and work on the show. He plays an eerily familiar writer in the show.
Man, I think I found some inspiration.
Photo by Mark J. Terril/ AP