Ron and the Other Guy

Fifty years ago I was a young man, spreading my wings in Vancouver – the stunning marriage of mountains and the sea.

I lived only steps away from Stanley Park, a 1000-acre expanse of ancient trees, sand beaches and sunlight sparkling the inner worlds of the forest.

And I got a job!  As a bellman at the Pacific Palisades Hotel on Robson Street.  I carried the guests’ luggage and knocked on their doors with hot meals.  I saw my task as “Welcome”.

One day we learned that a Hollywood movie would be shot in Vancouver … and the cast would be staying at the hotel!  I was thrilled.

I had heard of the two leading actors and I hoped I would get to talk to them.  My young self-esteem was teetering on an edge.  I needed validation from famous people – actually from anybody.

They arrived.  I was the luggage guy.  The first celebrity was young and handsome. I was jealous of him but maybe some of his charisma would rub off on my tiny shoulders.

I won’t name this fellow because every day I felt his disdain.  Indeed I was tiny in his eyes.  He hardly ever looked in mine.  Our relationship was simple: “Do this.  Do that.”  >  “Yes, sir.”

My moments with the heartthrob were small and damaging.  I was sinking fast.

And yet there was another man.  Here he is:

Of course he didn’t look like this in Vancouver.  Ron Moody acted as Fagin in the movie Oliver! and later on Broadway.

What I remember is his smile, so often aimed at me.  His delight at seeing me.  His interest in my life.  Here’s a later version of Ron:

Ron never seemed in a hurry, though he no doubt had places to go, people to meet. His eyes met mine and were happy to linger awhile.

When the movie wrapped and the cast were leaving the Palisades, Ron came by … to each of us. He handed me a little porcelain object. It was to hold a toothpaste tube. For years I cranked it, especially when the tube was nearly empty. Thank you, Ron.

This morning I thought of Ron Moody, and I looked him up on Google. The dear man died in 2015. I felt the jolt of sorrow.

Thank you for helping this young guy find his way

I pray that I have been “Ron” for some young one along the way

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