I wear sunglasses a lot. It could be overcast or raining, and I have them on. I’ve watched movies in a theater with shades on. And if I’m in a pool…no question. So like Jake and Elwood Blues, its nighttime and I’m wearing sunglasses…
I’m strolling along the strip in Vegas enjoying a pleasant night’s breeze and the multitude of colored lights that just go on forever like jewels against a dark desert sky. As I casually scan the sites I notice a couple a distance away, heading in my direction and they’re both looking at me.
Countless times I have noticed people staring at me in public, in various locations, but they are never aware that they also are being watched in return–with my eyes hidden behind a pair of Ray Bans. The couple is about thirty feet away so I pretend to stare at the swaying dances of the Bellagio fountains on my right, but I keep my vision on the couple.
As they get closer, the man turns his gaze away but the woman continues her ogling. As they pass close by she says,”Is that who I think it is?” The man answers,”It sure does look like him”.
This exchange left me to wonder,”Don’t they know that I can hear them? And, who do they think I am anyway?”
It was one of those odd moments.
Fast forward to a northwest setting: I sit waiting in my car at the Lakewood Park & Ride, a transit center just south of Tacoma, on a dark rainy evening. My son’s bus hasn’t arrived. He’s commuting from Seattle from an art gallery so I’m his ride home. The express buses are coming in every twenty minutes but he’s still not on any of them.
Multiple buses come and go; restless, I change radio stations trying to pass the time. I turn the music down low and listen to the rain come down when there’s a knock on my window. I turn to see a man looking in and I’m wondering what he needs. I glance at him. He doesn’t look shifty, so I roll down the window a couple inches.
“What’s up”, I ask. He begins,”Sorry to disturb you sir, but do you happen to have a dollar for a bus ride?” OK, here we go…I should have known…I’ve heard it before dozens of times (I’m sure many of us have). I know the bus system and the fares very well, so I quiz the guy.
“Where you going?” Without a pause he says,”Olympia”.
So I counter with,”And how much do you need?” “A dollar fifty”, he says without hesitation.
I immediately know he’s right and I now feel that he legitimately needs a handout. I give him two bucks, he thanks me several times and wishes me a good evening. I tell him to take it easy.
He’s about ten steps away when he turns and says, “Sorry again for bothering you, but I have to ask…are you Tony Orlando?”
At this precise moment I need distraction from a half hour of waiting for the right bus to arrive. I’m bored, so I said,”Yes I am”… and then wonder where this is gonna go. He pauses and grins and tells me in an excited voice,”I knew it, I knew it! … wow”, he continues,”glad to meet you!”
I grin and say thank you. Then he looks a little puzzled and says,”Wait, what are you doing here if you don’t mind my asking?” I reply,”I live here. I’m waiting for my son…he works in Seattle.”
“So you’re on vacation?”, he says curiously. “Yes, I’m taking a break and I go back to do some more shows next month”, I say matter-of-factly surprising myself for coming up with that line effortlessly.
He thanks me again and says “I really like your music”. “Thank you”, I reply with a smart-alec grin.
My son’s bus arrives and I notice the man actually does board the Olympia bus just like he said. After opening the passenger door, my son asks,”Who were you talking to?”
“A Tony Orlando fan”, I manage to say with a smirk. I tell him the story on the way home and he listens waiting for me to finish.
He then turns to me and says,”Did he ask you for an autograph?”
José Oswaldo Rico, Guest Contributor Previous columns HERE