Cryin’ O’Neal

With news of his passing, here is my Ryan O’Neal story.

In early 1982 I was a senior in high school and a stock clerk at the glorious long-gone Hunters Books on Rodeo Drive. I worked in the basement with a merry band of misfits young and not-so. We called it the dungeon, lovingly. Celebrity visits were relatively common given the store’s location, and when word got down to the dungeon that Farrah Fawcett was on the main floor, we dropped whatever we were doing and had bounded up the spiral metal staircase in a matter of seconds.

Like something out of a cartoon we piled up and peaked around the side of the door frame and indeed, there she was at the register, radiant and magnificent. The most beautiful woman in my world. She noticed us and let go with one of those million megawatt smiles.

The fellow she was with wasn’t anywhere near as pleased. In fact, he was downright angry. Glared at us as if we had no right. When his piercing gaze didn’t send us scurrying, he called out “Get a good look fellas, that’s as close as you’re gonna get.” That drew a disapproving glance from Farrah that wiped away her smile.

“What an asshole,” I said under my breath but apparently not far deep enough.

“What? What did you say, punk?”

“I said –.” Before I could finish the sentence, the dungeon master — I mean our supervisor, Barry — had yanked me away from the door and pushed me back toward the stairs, telling us all to quit harassing the customers and to get back to work. Reluctantly I went followed by the others with O’Neal going on loudly about how I’d better get out of his sight or he’d kick my ass.

Imagine being a grown-ass man that possessive of a treasure as to be so spontaneously jealous of an 18-year-old punk and his crew just wanting to behold her.

Rest in peace, Ryan O’Neal. We were both right: that was as close as I would get to Farrah. And you were an asshole.