Back in 2004, when the Democrats were desperately trying to topple that evil genius, President George W. Bush, Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry, he of marrying rich ketchup lady fame, was in St. Louis as part of some silly train ride west to press the flesh with commoners along the route who apparently hadn’t decided who they were going to vote for yet (yeah, morons).
As is the case whenever anybody semi-important comes to town, police officers have to disrupt their regular routines to babysit and protect these folks from the very people they think love and adore them.
On this day, there were maybe 15,000 people at St. Louis Union Station listening to this blow hard lament the plight of the homeless and the poor as though somebody with his wealth and means can relate on any level to what a homeless, poor or even middle class American goes through in everyday life.
Fortunately for me, every single one of these people was in the back of Union Station while I was positioned alone in the front. It may have been the easiest detail I’ve ever had!
I was standing there alone in the heat, when I noticed a lone stranger across the street rushing from out of nowhere. He was pulling a luggage type bag on wheels and looked like he was clearly lost.
This guy finally reaches me and I see that he’s frantically talking into a phone . After a few seconds, he removed it from his head and looked at it disgustedly for a moment.
While he’s staring at his phone, I’m looking at this guy and trying to figure out where I’ve seen him before. He looked VERY familiar. He finally looks at me and puts what today I recognize as a Blackberry in my face and asks me if I can help him to get better reception for his phone. Back in 2004, I didn’t know a Blackberry phone from my ass, quite frankly.
Really asshole, I’m thinking to myself. Can I help you get better reception? Do I look like a fucking cell phone tower? What kind of question is that?
He showed me his phone with its fancy keypad and screen and said that he was having trouble hearing his pal on the other end. He was supposed to meet his pal and was running late. I looked at his phone for a minute and said to him “well there’s your problem, that there is a calculator not a telephone.”
He looked at me like I had two heads (who the fuck is this guy, did I go to college with him?) and says, “You’ve never seen a Blackberry before?”
“Huh”, I said.
“It’s a phone and so much more; you don’t have one?” my familiar stranger said.
I laughed and said that I was a police officer with a wife and child, so no, I don’t have nice things.
I asked him if he was from St. Louis and he said no, he lived in Los Angeles. He said he was in town for the Kerry nonsense (he probably called it a gala or something, nonsense was my word, of course).
I told him he looked familiar and he sort of gave me a wry smile.
“Have I seen you on tv or something?” I asked.
“You may have,” he said.
“Hmmmm, I can’t place your face and it’s making me nuts,” I said. “But don’t tell me, I’ll figure it out.”
Meanwhile, he asked me again about getting him better reception for his fancy phone device.
“Come closer friend, let’s see if this works,” I said.
He stood next to me and I told him to hold his phone over his head. Unbelievably, he did and I started to manipulate the metallic badge on my shirt as though I was reflecting invisible phone beams from outer space directly to his device. After a good 20 seconds, he finally said, “You’re playing with me aren’t you?”
“Ha! I was not playing with you, sir. I was screwing with you. I doubted that was going to work, but it was all I could think to do and you never know if you don’t try.” I said.
He smiled and we ended up talking about our kids, Los Angeles and St. Louis among other things for a few minutes. This man I couldn’t identify was a nice guy, whoever he was.
He said he had to go and asked if I’d figured out who he was yet. He wasn’t being pretentious or anything. I told him I had not, but that I would, without him having to tell me.
“Ok,” he said.
I pointed him towards the back lot, where the Kerry party was underway. He walked off and when he was about fifty yards away, it hit me.
“GOONIES!!?” I hollered his way “You’re that kid from Goonies!! Right?”
He turned and laughed and gave me a thumbs up before continuing on his way.
I busted out my flip phone, which was getting reception just fine, and called to tell my wife that I’d just met one of the Goonies kids. The ring leader. Goonies is one of her all time favorite movies.
“Sean Astin?” she asked.
“Yes!” I said. “He was a really nice guy, too.”
“You know he was in Rudy and is in the Lord of the Ring movies too, right?” asked wife.
Well fuck! No, it had not occurred to me that he was in those movies and I felt like an idiot for only recognizing him from a movie 20 years earlier and not the more recent ones that I’d actually seen (I’m not a big movie watcher).
I’d have liked to have talked to him knowing who he was. I’d have probably let him use my flip phone to find his pal had I known he was Rudy and that Hobbit fellow.
Even if he was apparently a Democrat.