November 2nd, 2005
It was a day that will live in infamy, forever.
I was literally three minutes from my house when I decided that the best possible course of action for me and my creative lunchtime curse of MSG-fatigue (without eating any MSG of course) would be a trip to the local Starbucks Coffee where I could grab a drink that was as far from the original invention of coffee as it could ever be. You know, something with foam and sugar and chocolate covered coffee beans and fruit sorbet and the whole kitchen sink. I would walk right in there and sidle up to the counter and order my candy-coated coffee drink with enthusiasm.
That is, of course, until I saw him.
If you’re a child of the 80′s, you are probably extremely familiar with Mr. T. From his role as Clubber Lang in the hit boxing flick Rocky III or his role as the curmudgeony B. A. Baracus from TV’s The A-Team — this is the guy who made the mohawk famous along with his trademark phrase, “I Pity The Fool!”
Well… Mr. T was standing right in front of me in line.
It was then that I tuned my eavesdropping ears into the conversation in front of me, in which Mr. T picked out two chocolate covered graham crackers (for dipping) and ordered a double-shot espresso. Yes, that’s right — Mr. T, a guy with more energy and moxie than the entire city of Los Angeles, was ordering up additional adrenaline in the form of a dark, thick liquid. It was awesome.
And I had to say something or else I’d regret it.
I waited long enough for him and I to clear the counter and the ordering scenario before I placed myself right in front of him:
Me: “Hi, Mr. T.”
Mr. T looked at me and you could see it in his face. Anyone who calls him Mr. T and not by his real name must have questions about his career, his relationship with Sly Stallone, his time on The A-Team… He was cautious, and for good reason.
Mr. T: “Hey.”
He turned back away from me, waiting for his double-shot espresso.
Me: “Uh, Mr. T? Can I ask you a question?”
He turned back towards me, cautious.
Mr. T: “Yeah, yeah. What is your question?”
It was a question that I had wanted to ask since, well…forever.
Me: “Do you still pity the fool? I mean, or was that just an 80′s thing or something?”
Mr. T: “Do I still…what?”
Me: “You know…do you still pity the fool? Like you used to pity those fools in the 80′s? I mean, you went around all over the place and on the TV pitying the fools but then suddenly you just stopped saying it…but people sometimes stop saying trademark phrases they’re known for but still…you know…still think it, or hold those kind of ideas close to them…”
Mr. T: “You’re kidding me…right?”
Me: “No, well… No.”
By that point, Mr. T’s double-shot espresso was ready and they called him but not by the Mr. T name but by another name altogether. It was a startling, weird moment as he glared at me, then picked up his energy elixir. It was then, coffee in hand, that he swung back around — face to face.
Mr. T: “I pity the fool who has to ask me if I still pity the fool.”
It was the coolest thing Mr. T could have ever said to me. And it convinced me, that yes, even though someone stops pitying a fool in public doesn’t mean they’ve stopped pitying fools altogether. Mr. T proved that to me along with one very important detail…
Mr. T likes the double-shot espresso.