I already posted about my recent brush with fame but I have an older, more surreal story to tell.
Back in '94 when I was pregnant with Mayhem, we lived in a cute little condo that was one of a set of six on a fairly busy road. Chaos was two. My husband worked crazy shifts at the hospital. One night as he was leaving us to go to work, a HUGE shadow lumbered toward him. Our neighborhood was a little funky and mostly safe (although there was that one time my father was held up at gun point in our driveway.) My husband said he freaked out because he didn't know what to do: get in the car and try to run over whoever was coming up on him or run back in and try to protect his pregnant wife and child. Before he could decide, an enormous man walked up and said, "Hey man, I'm your neighbor and I just wanted to let you know that I see you leaving sometimes. I want you to know that I'll make sure your place is ok. I sit out here a bunch and I just wanted you to know I'm watching out for you." I'm sure my husband said something like, "U-u-uh-uh th-th-th-thanksssss."
I met our neighbor for myself the next evening. (*Sidenote is that we never saw these people in the light of day. They had ivy growing over their windows and a sign on the door forbidding anyone to knock on the door before noon. The irony is that on the other side of them was a preschool with screaming children that ran around outside for most of the mornings!) Our neighbor turned out to be a super nice guy along the lines of 'he may look like a big meanie but he's really a teddy bear'. But not quite, because even when you KNEW he was a nice guy he was still mostly terrifying to look at. He was beefy in a mutant kind of way with a 'weathered' face (to be nice about it.) And he was big. Did I mention that? As in GII-NORMOUS. To this day, he is still the scariest person I have ever seen upclose, but he was taken with my toddler and quite protective of me. I'd never had anyone menacing watching out for me before. I'd always dated the tall, stringy, brainiac types. I hate like heck to admit how comforting it was to know he was out there scaring off all the bad guys.
One night (rather more like 1 or 2 am) we were startled awake by a horrible bleating noise. We had both teleported into Chaos' room before we were truly awake. We looked at our peacefully sleeping toddler. We looked at each other and then around the room. Then from behind us came the noise again - a staccato, LOUD, bleating. Like a rhythmically dying cow. We hurriedly left the room and shut the door so Chaos would stay asleep and we ran to the window. No cow that we could see. <--And that was good because it would have been really weird to have livestock wandering around getting dead in the middle of the city. I made my husband go outside and see if he could figure out what that noise was. He came back in and said, "It's our neighbor." "Our neighbor is dying?!" "No, he's laughing. There are a couple of people all sitting around on the hoods of their cars in the driveway in front of his place." "What's making that noise then?" I asked. "I told you. It's Tex. That's what he sounds like when he laughs." (I did mention that he is the scariest human ever, right?)
Sometime later (again at night), I saw Tex hobbling around his driveway with his leg in a cast. "Hey man, what happened? You get run over by a mac truck?"
"Naw. Actually it was a beer truck. In Canada." (<-I think it was Canada.)
"Really? You got hit by a beer truck?! And you lived?"
"Shoot. I walked away. It's the truck they had to haul off."
No lie. The man got hit by a fully loaded beer truck and walked away. The truck they towed. They told him they'd send him the grille. I totally didn't believe him until a couple of days later when he showed me an article in a paper that a friend of his had sent down. I skimmed the article and it was all about how Tex had gotten run over while filming on location. Filming? "Hey! You're in a movie? Wow." He looked at me funny.
"I've been in a couple."
"Really? Like what?"
"Like 'Raising Arizona' and.."
"No shit! You don't just look like the scary motorcycle guy, but you ARE the motorcycle guy!"
(Can you believe I said that outloud?) Luckily for me (but not for my eardrums), he thought that was hilarious and laughed his dying moose of a laugh. I made him laugh even more when I told him my husband had momentarily debated whether or not to run him over with our tiny Hyundai the first time they met. He wheezed out, "Run..me..over..with..that?! Hawwwwwwww! Hawwwww!"
He showed me some of his movie posters once, but what I remember is how daaaarrrrrkkk their house was and jumbled up with that is the memory of an eight-foot tall, stuffed animal cheetah. Possibly the cheetah is something that the guy who had the house after them found in the attic - so it might not be connected to Tex Cobb at all but that's how my mind works - it just dumps everything associated into one file.
I failed to find a publicity photo of Tex from 'Raising Arizona' to post here (so if someone with better research skills than I finds one send it my way!) But I did find this on a guy named Brian's site. (Thanks Brian! He looks better in this picture than I've ever seen him!)
Our story could have ended with that, except I was talking to my grandfather at one point after Tex moved somewhere else. Somehow my grandpa and I got talking about meeting celebrities and I told him I had had Tex Cobb as a neighbor.
"Oh the boxer. Bit o' trouble he's in with the IRS. I hear he's an all right guy though."
"No gramps. I lived next to the actor." Shows how much I knew. Turns out gramps was right and Tex was a hugely famous boxer. (Like I follow boxing. Eeeewwww. But it sure does explain the way he looks, eh?) And I wish gramps had been wrong about something, somewhere because the next thing my grandfather said was, "We're kin to him, you know."
"To whom? Tex Cobb?? No way!"
"Let's see, his grandmother was Katie's sister." Katie being my grandfather's mother. I knew she was from a huge family - one of eleven or twelve. My grandfather was born in Deming, New Mexico but I don't know where my great-grandmother grew up. "He and Patty would be second cousins." Patty is my mom. My petite, beautiful, red-headed mother. Cousin to the scariest human ever.
"No way Grandpa! You are making that up." My grandfather gave me the hairy eyeball. And with good reason, I don't think the man told a lie in his whole life.
So there you have it. Not only did I live next to a guy who looks like this on a good day, but we swim at the same end of the gene pool. I think I am glad not to have known about all that when I was pregnant. I'm just sayin'.