rollin’, rollin’ rollin’
(originally posted 8/16/2013)
When the winner of the largest lottery in California history turned out to be from Hollywood, the press couldn’t wait to get their hands on him. They were expecting an eccentric and they were not disappointed. George Candide was perhaps the only man in Hollywood whose work had nothing to do with the movie business. He was a gardener and a part-time philosopher and when asked if he thought it was God’s will that he won, he laughed and said that Quantum Theory disproved the notion of a god.
When he was asked why, he said that particles, when not observed, exist everywhere at one time yet George Berkely had noted that a hidden rabbit tucked inside the magician’s hat still existed because it was perceived by God.
“If a god can’t be bothered to perceive particles I have very little use for him.”
Flashbulbs popped and reporters scribbled away furiously.
When asked what he planned to do with his winnings he answered, perhaps as a tip of the hat to his hometown, by doing his best Ernie McCracken impersonation: “l don’t know. All l know is, l finally got enough money that l can buy my way out of anything. Finally, Big George is above the law! It’s a great feeling.”
He then vowed to never again come to a full stop at a stop sign.
And George “Rolling Stop” Candide was born.
His assertion was given more credence when only twenty minutes after the press conference he was pulled over for that exact infraction. He was stopped another three times before he finally made it home. At $109.00 a pop, his trip from the lottery building to his house cost him $436. A small price to pay when you consider a week later his illicit behavior landed him a reality TV series.
It was good to live in Hollywood.
Rolling Stop was a ratings hit and it was whispered behind the scenes in various precincts that the opportunity to pull George over was something that was much coveted in a law enforcement community where fully half the force moonlighted as actors. On days when there was a possibility of George rolling by, officers would trim their mustaches with extra care. When he bought a new house the number of hours devoted to monitoring stop sign-related violations in that neighborhood saw a dramatic uptick.
Planning a route that included as few stop signs as possible became a habit for George and the crew of cameramen who followed him. Not only was it expensive to visit friends in suburban areas, it also added a longer-than-you’d-think-if-you-didn’t-think-it-through amount of time to the journey. Sometimes a quick trip to the grocery store cost six or seven hundred dollars and took three or more hours.
But the alternative, coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, was unthinkable to George.
Every week viewers tuned in to watch George roll on through and then pull over as an ever-increasing number of co-stars in the law enforcement community introduced themselves.
The episode that drew the highest ratings was forever remembered as the “Soap” episode. After giving George his obligatory ticket, the officer asked him if he ever regretted making his public vow. George replied to the contrary. Just before turning and making his way back to his vehicle, almost as an afterthought, he asked George if he ever regretted anything.
“Yes. One thing.”
The officer stopped midway through putting his sunglasses back on.
“And what would that be?” he inquired, his mustache glistening around the edges with traces of his morning donut.
“I had a friend stay over with me recently. An old college buddy.” George’s voice faltered slightly. “I played a prank on him.”
The policeman, happy for the additional camera time, asked what that prank entailed.
“I have only one shower in my house. After using the soap, and knowing he was going to shower after me, I pulled out as many pubic hairs as I could and plastered them all over the soap.”
The look of disgust on the face of the mustachioed man was mirrored across the country as millions of viewers winced at this confession.
The wincing was only beginning.
“The problem was, despite the fact that the soap was white and ended up looking like a guinea pig with mange, he must not have even noticed. He took a shower and didn’t say a word.”
The officer made a motion like he was considering pulling out his pad and giving George a ticket for something that he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
“I went into the bathroom afterwards and saw the soap had been used and a lot of the pubes were gone and the rest were pushed into the soap.”
The camera crew groaned despite themselves.
“I just kept imaging him lathering up his face …” and his voice trailed off.
After he pulled away he turned and asked the cameraman if he would consider editing that last interaction out. “Are you kidding?” he answered, “That was gold baby.”
And so it was. That episode of Rolling Stop was number one in its time slot that week. Not bad at all for basic cable.
But Hollywood is a fickle mistress. The audience reacted much like George’s friend when he saw the show where his little showering exploit was mentioned and after that they stayed away in droves. George was left with only his hundreds of millions of dollars, philosophy, his need to be above the law and perhaps the finest garden in town.
“Mistakes are a drag, because you get in the area of regret and self-pity.”