LIFESTYLE/MEMOIR

BACK DOWN MEMORY LANE

I’m taking a break. No election coverage. No thoughts on the fall television season, the NFL or the upcoming MLB playoffs.

Today I’m remembering September 11, 2001.

I was invited to play in the John Starks celebrity golf tournament. John flew me in from Los Angeles to Long Island, first class, on American Airlines. That night, I had dinner with Jackie Harry and a girlfriend of hers who was staring on Broadway in “The Lion King.” The next evening, at the dinner before the tournament, Gayle King has lots of fun teasing me because I knew we had met before, I just couldn’t remember where or when. She told me I had too many old girlfriends and couldn’t keep track. She eventually let me off the hook and saved me from complete embarrassment. I was beginning to question if it was really Gayle or was it Pam Oliver playing tricks with my mind.

The tournament was on Monday, September 10. The weather was hot and sunny. It was the first time I had ever seen Patrick Ewing on a golf course, and we had a good laugh. My team played well but not near the lead. Our reward was helping to raise money for the John Starks Foundation and the good times we all shared.

I was being driven back to Manhattan where one of my best friends was going to pick me up. I was planning to spend the week with his family in New Jersey. Then I got a phone call from my voiceover agent in LA. I was in contention for a Gateway Computer commercial as the voice of the Gateway cow. It was between me and one other guy. This was a big ad campaign and they needed me in the studio right away. The problem was, it was only 6pm on the west coast but 9pm in New York. My agent didn’t know I wasn’t in LA. They hate that just because of situations like this one. So they had to find someone in New York, with a studio that could patch me in, without notice, at 9pm on a Monday. Let’s just say this was going to be a challenge.

My friend had to get home to his family, so I camped out in the lobby at the Sheraton Hotel waiting for a call. It was between 11pm and 12am that my agent found a really nice guy, who had just purchased the piece of equipment needed to patch me in. He got out of bed, unwrapped his new toy and we went to work. He was great. The session was great . By the time I was done, it was after 1am, and after 2am by the time I got back to the Sheraton.

I could have checked into the hotel, but the frugal part of me didn’t want to pay for a full NYC prices for a couple of hours. So I did what we all should do from time to time, find out who your real friends are. I got in a cab, rode up to 155th in Harlem, unannounced, rang the doorbell, at 3:30am, of one of my other closest friends. I said I’m here, let me in! Pretty bold huh? I think he handed me a towel, said I know where the guest bedroom is and he didn’t want to hear the story till morning. I believe there may have been just a gentle “bang” as his bedroom door shut.

I understood, but I had to chuckle. I knew as stories go, this one was going to be a good one.

The next thing I knew, he was standing over me, saying come look at the television.

Stay tuned for part two…

Darryl Bell is an actor and Chicago native, best known for his role in classic TV series “A Different World” and Spike Lee’s “School Daze.” His unique television commentary is exclusive to Urban Thought Collective.


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