This afternoon at Chipotle, located almost directly across from Edwards Valencia 12, I leaned against the single railing in front of the registers, waiting for my still-cooking large chicken and cheese quesadilla with extra cheese, while Mom and Meridith already had their burrito bowls, and Dad had his salad of lettuce, beef, and a little bit of sour cream. He's not much for Mexican food.
I stared at the woman putting toppings on burritos and burrito salads for people ordering, trying to will her to check on my quesadilla. I vaguely heard people tell the woman what they wanted, and then my hearing faded up and I heard "Rory? Rory?" I looked to my right, and it was Sy Richardson with whom I had seen Larry Crowne last year at Edwards Valencia 12, which he had been in with Tom Hanks, but only briefly in the opening scene, the rest of his scenes deleted. He played a clerk answering Larry's call for a price check. I hadn't seen him since then, but I had seen his guest-starring role on a recent episode of Rizzoli & Isles, which I had never seen before, and Tivo'd only his scene. He was really good, and proved yet again that he's a consummate actor, each role different. You couldn't tell in that appearance that he was the coroner on Pushing Daisies.
We shook hands, I asked him how he was doing, then complimented him on his performance on Rizzoli & Isles, and asked him how he had felt being on one of his favorite shows. He said to me, "I felt like a kid in a candy store." He's saying this to me, but in my head, I'm thinking, "I'vegottogetMeridithI'vegottogetMeridithI'vegottogetMeridith!" Sy and his ever-beautiful wife are inching toward the registers, getting ready to pay, and I told Sy that I'd be right back.
I ran to the table and said hurriedly to Meridith, "Come with me!" We walked back to the register, I tapped Sy on the arm, and he turned, and I said to Meridith, "He played the coroner on Pushing Daisies!" They shook hands and I think Meridith was just surprised. Mind you, she had met Chi McBride ("Emerson Cod") and Bryan Fuller (the creator of Pushing Daisies) at the Paley Center event at the Cinerama Dome a few years ago of a screening of the final three episodes, but I had raved about Sy so much and she was just amazed that there he was on TV, and on the DVDs I have, and there he is, warm-hearted and gracious as ever. He asked Meridith if we were going to the movies too, and she said no, we were just having lunch with our parents. He said he was going to see The Amazing Spider-Man.
Sy seeing Larry Crowne was obvious, but thinking about it now, him seeing The Amazing Spider-Man with his wife, I can tell he really loves movies. He's the genuine definition of a working actor. He goes where the work is. I asked him what he was doing next and he said that he's going to Louisiana for a month to be in August Wilson's Fences. I just looked at the date on my first entry about Sy, and that was July 8, 2011. It's July 5, 2012, and there he was, going back to Louisiana.
We parted, since I got my quesadilla and it was time to eat, and he and his wife went to sit outside for their lunch. After a few minutes of arranging the salsas and the guacamole and Meridith folding down the top of the paper bag of tortilla chips, I realized after all my talking about what had just happened that I hadn't gotten my iced tea yet. I went up to the dispenser and there was Sy's wife, getting a few napkins and some plastic forks and spoons. I said to her that I told my sister the other day that Pushing Daisies should have lasted for eight seasons. She said to me that they really loved being part of that show, and I told her of Bryan Fuller's next projects, that of Hannibal, about Hannibal Lecter before he was imprisoned, and Mockingbird Lane, a remake of The Munsters for NBC. I also said to her that I hope Bryan Fuller remembers her husband, at least for a guest role on one of these shows, definitely The Munsters since he'd fit easily in that style again, considering his role on Pushing Daisies.
We parted again, I got my iced tea, and sat back down.
Lunch over later, we collected all our trash, got up to leave, and I was glad to see that Sy still at the table outside. I walked over to him, he saw me and said, "Have a nice afternoon," and we shook hands again. I said to him, "If ever you're in Vegas, you let me know." He said he would, and that was that. Unlike much of what I've experienced in Santa Clarita, I know he means it. This is his home base, but he's not of this valley. He goes where the work is, he travels for it, and he's always interested in it. He's a real mensch. I hope he visits Las Vegas because I would love to show him around my hometown. I didn't ask him if he's ever been there, but even if he has, it would be an honor to spend time with him there.
He was on my mind the rest of the day, and well into tonight, because of his news that he was going to Louisiana to be in Fences. I found out from his Facebook page that it's going to be at the Shreveport Little Theatre. I couldn't stop thinking about how he's probably studying the text, learning his lines, thinking about how he's going to play it, and eventually he'll be working with a cast and director and learning more from them, because an actor never stops learning. But above all, it made me realize that it's time to get off my butt and finally write the books and novels and plays I want to write. It's time for me to work as a writer like he does as an actor. Oh I'm working on that book about the Airport movies, but I need to do more. I need to do research for my books and novels, though the Vegas-centered ones will wait until I get there, have access to those libraries, and become fully acclimated to the area, which won't take long, but I need to know where past casinos were and drive to those locations, where current casinos sit, to see for myself. Same with Fremont Street, since one of my Vegas novels takes place in that general area.
Sy goes where the work is and so should I. Sure it's all in my mind for now, save for research I've done so far and some paragraphs I've written, and so I need to mine that more. Get it all out and see where it takes me.
Funny how I coincidentally met up with him again the day before I go to the media preview for Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Magic Mountain. One great day before another potentially great day.
Sy also indirectly reminded me that I need to stay in better touch with the people I really like. That includes him and a few other friends, including one who contacted me today after a year. That was too long.
I didn't know I needed a few moments with a great man, but now that I've had them, I'm a new man. Time to get to work and follow through, not just do a little bit and go back to reading. Thank you, Sy!