I’m not sure if Ed and I were real friends but I found him interesting and I liked him. He was a customer, a lifer at a major international manufacturing corporation in the Midwest. Just a few years older than me, he drove a tan Taurus and wore tan short sleeve shirts with a tan tie. Time and again the work he sent our way saved our bacon and allowed us to make payroll. We always invited him out to the west coast to watch the productions we were shooting for him and one time he accepted. We wanted to do something special as a “thank you” so we had an Oscar made up with his name on it.
I learned early on that presentation is everything. Depending on the person, sometimes I spend more time and money on the wrapping than the gift, other times, “brown paper packages tied up with string” is the way to go.
I began to ponder Ed’s presentation. He was born and bred in the Midwest, so cow was a must on the menu. We booked a great restaurant. Around the same time I was casting for a music video and happened to audition a beautiful young woman who reminded me of those seven foot tall women who bring out the Oscars at the Academy awards. A risky move that could backfire, embarrass Ed and make me look rather pimp like, but we decided to go for it. She didn’t get the music video part but we booked her for our presentation.
She asked, “What should I wear?”
I responded, “It’s a dinner thing, so whatever you feel prettiest in.”
“Sexiest?” she inquired, looking to clarify. Sadly, she had worked the car shows and knew the drill.
“No, definitely not. Go for pretty.” Like she had far to go.
“Okay, thanks,” she said, looking relieved.
The plan was to have our presenter walk by a few times like she was dining somewhere else in the restaurant, but each time glance over at Ed like she recognized him. Finally, of course, she would stop at the table, know his name, ask for his autograph, and then present him with his Oscar. Ed’s jaw literally dropped open when she walked by the first time.
“Did you see that woman?” he whispered. “She looked right at me and smiled.”
I realized at that point that this had never happened to Ed in his entire life. “Yeah right, Ed. You’re hot.”
We laughed it off. She came by again. This time Ed managed a nervous smile back at her. “I swear she smiled again.”
We laughed louder. “She must work here, Ed. She’s just going for the tip.”
“I don’t think so,” he muttered, looking kind of bewildered.
Then she came back to ask for his autograph. She played it perfectly; sweet and shy and kind of embarrassed. Ed was sorry to disappoint her, “No, you must have me confused with–”
But she persisted, “I swear I saw you on the Academy Awards…”
She wrote her own script for this part and she was superb. When she proved she knew Ed’s name he looked like he was going into shock. Out came the Oscar and he realized what was up. He didn’t laugh. He looked at us and smiled and started to tear up. I may be wrong but I don’t think it was because his fantasy just ended. In fact, the evening got even better for Ed.
We invited our presenter to join us for an appetizer and found out she was a newlywed. Her husband was a soldier and already overseas. Then one more surprise for all of us.
She said, “Ed, if you give me your address, I’ll send you something in a few months.”
“Sure,” he said as he began searching for a business card.
She continued, “I’ve already been to LA for the photo shoot and I just found out that I’m going to be the Playmate of the month in…” ( I’ve never looked, and you can’t either. )
Ed looked at us as though this was all part of the set-up, but we had no idea. He called us when he got his autographed copy.
Ed died a few years later, way too young, of some illness I can’t remember. But I hope we were part of a bright spot in his life. I know we gave him a great story.