Piteous Fool Meets T
In the 1980’s, Illinois ranked third or fourth among states in production dollars spent in film. Much of those dollars were spent on classic 80’s movies and television shows filmed in my hometown, Chicago.
At that time, I worked in the office of a “doctor to the stars”. I arranged her confidential on-set appointments with filming actors. For about $6.00 per hour plus tales of her hands rubbing all over the cast of the A-Team and Crime Story in between their scenes, it was a good gig for me.
Since the doctor was on set most of the time, few patients needed to come to the office. I had the place to myself until visitors like UPS Guy showed up.
On one occasion, the doctor came back from set early to work on office paperwork. She casually mentioned that one of her stars might stop by.
An hour later, rather than UPS Guy at the door, a very burly black man wearing a fluorescent orange work vest and an engrained scowl waited for me to notice and buzz him in.
UPS Guy sub, I thought. The scowl and lack of packages made it a silly thought.
“May I see the doctor, please,” he said.
“Who’s calling, please?” I said back.
“She’s expecting me.”
“How about your name then,” I said.
I laughed out loud. This guy was only an inch taller than my 5’8” frame. Mr. T was a giant, layered in gold with muscle shirts and army boots. This average man in his work vest and worn Nikes did not glitter of gold.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“Please let the doctor know I am here to take her to dinner.”
Sure, I thought, right after I call security.
* * *
“Doctor,” I started, “there is a guy at the door. He insists he is here to take you to dinner. And get this: he thinks he’s Mr. T.”
To my surprise, the doctor jumped up and ran to the door like a schoolgirl on a first date.
“T”, she said warmly. “Come in. Have you met my assistant, C.T.?”
“Not officially,” he said as he reached out to shake my sweaty hand.
I tried to swallow my own head. The doctor pattered off to get her purse and left me alone with my knotted tongue and, apparently, Mr. T.
“It’s OK,” he said in a conspiratorial tone. “It’s the gold. No one recognizes me without it. Leave the metal behind and I’m incognito.”
Then Mr. T actually winked at me.