Once he was a nobody…

Whenever I listen to this Youtube clip from the 2004 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame ceremony and enjoy Prince’s remarkable solo, it reminds me of the following experience behind the wheel…

limoIt had been a good day. In the morning, a simple red-eye arrival from Hong Kong or Tokyo. I forget which. A sleepy businessman in his fifties, or maybe it was a woman. I forget. Not much luggage, a quick Beverly Hills drop-off at a house on Bedford. Or maybe it was Roxbury. A nod of thanks. An easy two hours minimum plus 15% gratuity.

Then an airport run from the Beverly Wilshire for an English actor known for his romantic roles and Oscar nominations. He’s traveling with his boyfriend, who’s a lot younger. This is no surprise to me. when gossip columnists want the inside stories, they talk to limo drivers. Not that I’d tell them anything. Another two hours and another 15%.

The radio was silent so I took number 18 back to the car-barn. That bastard Al gave me a ticket for a musician and his AR. I assumed he was a musician because the instructions said they were to travel from the l’Hermitage in Beverly Hills, where the artist was staying, to Warner Bros. Records’ offices. I was to wait and then take the pair back to the hotel. Nowhere else.

Orders like this were typical with the new artists. Some of them get real excited in the car. They want to drive around. Cruise the old neighborhood. Be seen getting in and getting out of a nice limo. I liked thinking that this ticket could net me four easy hours. Plus 15%.

On my way to l’Hermitage I cruised downtown Beverly Hills and let people wonder who was sitting in the back of number 18. “Paparazzi trolling.” Makes them crazy, especially when they gang up on the car at a red-light and you roll down the back windows. Maybe they have a place in the food chain. I thought they were parasites.

The musician is a little guy with cocoa brown skin, a beauty contestant’s face, and long, curly black hair with a spit-curl hanging over his forehead. He reminded me of a porcelain doll. He never said a word, just looked out the window with his pale eyes and lashes longer than a girl’s while his AR told him what a great break he’s getting, meeting this big-name producer. The musician nodded at whatever was passing by outside the window.

At Warners, I got out, taking my driver’s cap, which I usually didn’t do. This could be the musician’s only visit to Hollywood, I thought. I’ll contribute something he can remember. He got out. I touched the brim of my cap. He smiled up at me and said, “Thank you.” He’d be seeing a lot of limo drivers.

A few months later, the little cocoa-colored musician’s first album went double platinum and all the girls and plenty of boys wanted to share his bed. I hear he’s got his own limos now and he’s dating a chick with tits as big as coconuts.

You never know who will be in the back seat… #prince

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