“Is that…?” I slow my car as I motor down Sawtelle, one of L.A.’s insanely long streets. My view of the guy is suddenly cleared as a car passes. “It is him, it is.” I am so excited that I am mouthing the words. The guy who played “My name is Earl”‘s brother is slowly and heavily stepping from a brand-new Range Rover that has been cartoonishly accessorized. It’s like a big, metallic cheeseburger. He is oafish and wide, lumbering on the sidewalk, seeming to purposefully ignore me as I stare, no gawk at him through my passenger-side window. He glares straight ahead and I watch him like I’m on safari. Not a morning person, I surmise and then look back out the front window. I am a TV celebrity gawker. Others might follow sports stars like Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, but I am awed by TV stars, fresh and stale.
I was already happy about it being a beautiful Friday morning, but this has put me over the top. I continue down Sawtelle, excited to relay my experience with my co-workers.
Eva is at the elevator. I call out to her as I enter the lobby. “Eva, I saw “My Name is Earl”‘s brother.” She gets excited, too. “Wow. That’s great. Where was he?”
“He was going into Starbucks ( I now assume this). He doesn’t look like a morning person.”
My story reminds Eva of her celebrity encounter with Dolly Parton. “I saw her in the Vons Parking lot,” Eva recounts. “She looks just the same as she does on TV. She’s shorter than me.”
“I didn’t know that,” I reply. “Interesting.”
We are both excited to tell and hear our stories.
I enter an empty office. It’s still early and Lindsay, the sales assistant isn’t in yet. I craft an email to her:
I saw My Name is Earl’s brother going into Starbucks. You have to get up earlier if you want to catch the morning stars.
I reread the email and then press send.
I begin checking emails, and the workday begins.
Time passes and there is no reaction outside. I walk out of my office to see if Lindsay has come in yet. She is in her chair talking with Maria, a project manager.
“Did you see my email?” I ask with excited pride.
“Yeah, I don’t know who that is.”
“You’ve never heard of the TV show “My name is Earl”?
The two girls look at each other.
“Richard, we were born in the 90s. I did see Angelina Jolie’s dad at a Starbucks on Santa Monica last month, though. He smiled at me. I was like, whatever.”
I am dazed. Hit hard not only by her referring to movie legend Jon Voight as “Angelina Jolie’s dad,” but also by the reality of my advanced age. It’s like she has just given me a terminal diagnosis. The office blurs around me as I stare dumbly at the two girls who now ignore me as they talk with each other.
I find my way back to my desk, lost in a funk that comes with the sudden awareness of nearing personal mortality so early in the morning.
I sit and stare at the glowing icons on my computer screen. My thoughts turn back to the young girls just outside my door.
“Life goes by so fast,” I think. “And they don’t even know it.”