Vince Waldron and I go way back to our Chicago days, when we traveled the United States (well, some of them) as members of The Second City National Touring Company.
Vince's The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book is so official its introduction is by Dick Van Dyke himself. The book even has a foreword by Dan Castellaneta. You know who Dan is, don't you? That's right. He was a member of The Second City Touring Company with me and Vince.
I'll be at Vroman's tomorrow at 7PM for Vince's book signing. Come say hello!
(and despite what Vince says, I say Eagle Rock counts!)
I do live close enough to Pasadena to know my way around the hills that overlook the Rose Bowl from the west, where I often ride my bike on leafy wooded lanes with names like Patrician Way and Glen Oaks Boulevard, which at that altitude is so sparsely populated that you can sometimes spy entire families of deer walking across the untrafficked roads. In fact, this is the perfect time of year for spotting deer, as I discovered one fateful night not so long ago.
It was already dark on that early winter evening, and I relied on the beam of my bike light to guide me up that hilly stretch of Glen Oaks near the old Annandale power station, if you know where that is. There are no street lights up there, so the road was pitch black. Which is why I was surprised to come upon a man -- he must have been in his mid-60s -- standing in the middle of a large, wooded yard, presumably his own, where he was busy putting finishing touches on an elaborate collection of brightly lit Christmas yard decorations, the centerpiece of which was a life-size reindeer statue.
A string of white Christmas lights ran up the fake deer’s front leg and continued on up over its head, which rocked eerily back and forth in a smooth, mechanical motion that was a mockery of any real deer in nature, who are, if anything, known for their ability to hold their heads, and the rest of them, quite still for long periods of time.
As it happens, I nearly had the opportunity to make a head-to-head comparison when an actual live deer suddenly leapt out of a thicket across the road and started walking directly to the glowing effigy that vaguely resembled him.
Although I was looking forward to gawking at what promised to be a once-in-a-lifetime clash of man and nature, the owner of the artificial ruminant was having none of it. As soon as he saw the live deer, the man raised his arms and, in what looked to be a well-practiced gesture, shooed the buck right back into the bushes from which he emerged. I never did find out what Bambi made of his brightly-lit doppelganger that night, and it wasn’t until I’d ridden halfway back down the hill to Eagle Rock that the absurdity of what I’d just witnessed finally struck me.
I’ve seen three Christmases since then, and more mechanical reindeer statues than I’d care to count. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget that chilly night in Pasadena when I watched a man chase a real deer from his yard so a reindeer of plastic and wire could nod its head untroubled through the long holiday season.
Thanks for inviting me into your laptop, iPad or other device to share my holiday epiphany. Merry Christmas and the happiest holiday season to one and all!