The young actor with the pompadour walked into North Hollywood’s Pit Fire the other night. We sat at a table, under the counter, near the open pizza oven. I had bought us both a large brown bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale.
Short, compact, muscular, self-confident, courteous and boyish, The Shoe is a practicing marital artist, aspiring actor, and currently a bagger and cashier at Trader Joe’s.
He took a sip of the beer. “This is my first legal drink!” he said. He had been 21 for only 10 days.
“Oh, man I have so much energy,” he said. He had been down with his posse in Orange County, dancing up fights and performing in front of the camera. He wore a black and white striped knit hat and brand new Led Zepplin t-shirt.
Every tight-assed young girl who walked past us elicited his stares and then he would turn back and continue our conversation.
The Shoe had only been in LA for a few months, and lived with his girl in an apartment on Riverside in Valley Village. She was working as a stunt actor.
“Hey, have you ever been to Catalina?” he asked me.
“No,” I said.
“Man, we have to go! You, me, and my girl. They have a haunted house there!” he said with those lit up eyes and gravity-defying hair. I felt like I was Sal Mineo to his James Dean.
The Shoe devoured a small salad. I ate a large pumpkin pizza. He told me to go ahead and enjoy myself. “You have to eat!” he said. I envied his optimism and ability to stare into 2000 calories without fear.
He was sighing after the meal, thinking of everything he wanted to accomplish in life, now temporarily postponed getting up at 4am to work at T. Joes.
We finished our meal and he walked me to my car. The night was windy and cold and I was bundled up in a down jacket and wool crew-neck. He gave me a big dude hug and I thanked him for meeting me. “No. Thank you for inviting me,” he said.
The Shoe jaywalked and skipped and ran across Magnolia, cutting a sharp diagonal across the street, disappearing into the night.