I've never seen a cab drive that fast, but at least I wouldn't be stabbed by a pissed off Mexican…

I recently got a call from a producer who wanted to meet with me in California for some kind of a meet and greet, brainstorming consultation in order to get comedic ideas for his next project. I mean, seriously, who is really going to say no to that? Obviously, I dropped everything and flew out to California immediately.

Driver holding a sign at the airport baggage claim
Come on, admit it, this is a dream of everyone's, but with a different sign of course.

I arrived at LAX with instructions that I would be picked up by someone and driven to my meeting. Naturally I replayed every movie in my head that I have ever seen where you see someone arriving at an airport to find a guy in a suit holding a sign with your name on it. I'm not ashamed to admit that I spent a large portion of the plane ride debating whether it was stupid to actually ask the driver if I could keep the sign. Sure it would show how uncool I am about all of this, but at the same time, he's the fucking driver. It's not like he would tell the producer that I asked to keep the sign at the airport…or that I took a picture of it…perhaps one with him and the sign, with me wearing his hat.

My mind wandered as I imagined whether or not the driver would be wearing a hat and perhaps black driving gloves…when my cell phone rang.

"Na Naaaaaaah, na na na na na nah na nah nah na na na na… Thung thukathung thukathung thukathunkathuka.?.."

(In case you're wondering, my ring tone is Sasasan Katamari from Katamari Damacy, because I roll on all kinds of different levels than you.)

I answered it.

Me: "Hello?"

Caller: "Hola, it's Pepe, where are you?"

Me: "Who is this?"

Caller: "Pepe! Where ARE you?!"

Me: "I think you might have the wrong number."

He could ask her if she wants to "black up," which means to smoke weed, but she could think he was making some kind of racial pass at her. Caller: "I was told to get you at the airport."

Me: "Oh my driver! I'm passing security right now on my way out."

Caller: "I'm outside of security. What do you look like?"

Me: "I have long hair."

Caller: "It's fucking Southern California, everyone has long hair!"

Me: "What do you look like?"

Caller: "I'm Mexican and I have a mustache."

Me: "It's fucking Southern California, everyone is Mexican and has a mustache!"

Caller: "Yeah, the boss said you were funny, I wonder how funny you'll be walking to this fucking meeting."

Me: "Hold on, Pepe, I'm going old school."

(Taking the phone away from my ear)

"HEEEEEEEEEEEY PEEEEEEEEEPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

(Putting the phone back to my ear)

"Can you hear me now?"

A pissed off Mexican with a mustache, wearing a wife beater, a flannel shirt, and a backwards baseball cap walks up to me and says, "If I get a cavity search for that shit, I'm gonna… (the rest was in Spanish and I don't speak Spanish)."

Me: "It's nice to meet you, Pepe. You know, you should really have a sign."

Pepe: "Just shut up and let's get going."

We exited the building and walked past a couple of stretch limousines and followed the signs to "Economy Public Parking Lot C." Honestly it wasn't until after I got into his old, dented, red Chevy pickup truck that I realized we hadn't spoken a word since leaving the terminal and I didn't see any reason that should change. We headed North on I-405 and I was happily playing with the idea in my head that this was actually a Mexican standoff between me, Pepe, and silence itself, when I unfortunately realized that I would have to be the first one to shoot.

Me: "Hey, how long have you lived here, Pepe?"

Pepe: "All my life, why?"

Me: "Because you just missed the exit for Santa Monica Boulevard."

Pepe: "That's because we're not going to Hollywood, smart ass, we're going to Van Nuys."

Me: "Shit, you should never shoot first."

Pepe: "What?"

Me: "Mexican standoffs, you should never shoot first."

Pepe: "Mexicans use knives, want to see mine up close?"

Me: "No thank you."

Pepe: "Then shut the fuck up and don't tell me how to drive."

After another half hour of silence we drove past the sign that says, "Welcome to Van Nuys." I noticed that someone had graffitied the word "Arise" at the top of it and I smiled at the rhyme. It wasn't until much later that I would fully understand the joke.

Van Nuys, California welcome sign
Van Nuys: Most people just come and then go.

Pepe parked his truck on the street in front of an office building that was about as exciting and appealing as cream of wheat at a champagne brunch. Pepe and I got out of the car and I instinctively said, "Should I lock it?" to which he replied, "What's the point?" A brief elevator ride and a quick introduction later that when something like, "Here he is, John, you fucking owe me," I was happy to take my leave of Pepe, needless to say.

"John Stagg, nice to meet you, Andrei, have a seat."

Standing behind a desk with an outstretched hand was a man whose features looked like they had been slowly sliding off his elongated skull for the last 50 years. I shook his hand and sat down.

John: "As we discussed on the phone I asked you here because I wanted to get a fresh unique story idea for our next production. Something different, something off the beaten path that would stick in people's minds and make them raise an eyebrow. I've read some of your work and I have to say you definitely have a way of looking at things in a way people don't see coming.

Me: "Thanks, that's nice of you to say."

John: "So let's get right to it, give me your best idea for a woman who finds herself completely out of her element, yet she is completely taken by the environment and the people in it."

It was then that I realized that I probably should have come up with ten different ideas for various different movie genres, but honestly I thought this was going to be a round table, multi-person, brainstorming session, not a one-on-one meeting. Thinking quickly on my feet I uttered the first thing that came to my mind.

Me: "What about a woman who's in a country that isn't hers and due to a random circumstance meets a man who is completely beneath her station in life that she falls in love with."

I fully expected him to say, "Yeah great idea dumbass, it's called Notting Hill with Julia Roberts, now fuck off and stop wasting my time."

John: "Go on."

Trying desperately to build on the Notting Hill idea, while not obviously plagiarizing, I continued.

Me: "For instance the woman could be British, seemingly all proper but actually with a dark edgy quality."

John: "Who do you envision playing her?"

Me: "Adele." (My brain vomited out the first British woman's name that even remotely fit the description.)

John: "A black British woman. Interesting. Obviously she wouldn't do it, but we could get someone that looks like her. Go on."

Me: "Um…Adele isn't black."

John: "What?"

Me: "Adele isn't black, she's white."

John: "Are you sure?"

Me: "Positive."

John: "Huh…no matter, we'll make the guy black, interracial is always a draw."

Me: "What?"

John: "Please, go on."

Me: "Oh um…okay…so we could have the guy be a farmer."

John: "A black farmer…I like it, but what would he farm? Is there some way we could tie in some drug references."

Me: "Um…sure I guess. What about a Jamaican hemp farmer."

Jamaican hemp farmer
I don't know why people think Jamaicans are so happy, it seems like they dread everything.

John: "HAHA, nice! See this is why we asked you here."

Me: "And because of the British and Jamaican accent/language differences they could have lots of comical verbal misunderstandings. He could ask her if she wants to ‘black up,' which means to smoke weed, but she could think he was making some kind of a pass at her with a racial reference to himself."

John: "I love it."

Me: "They could also have a scene in the kitchen where he's cooking her dinner and asks her to taste something, to which she responds, ‘It could use a little more herbs.' He could then just reply, ‘I-Rey' and add a bunch of marijuana, getting them both really high leading to various comedic interactions."

John: "We could even work in a hemp rope scene of some kind."

Me: "Yeah, it ties together nicely."

John: (laughing) "Good one."

Me: "Thanks."

John: "Perfect! I'm sold. Andrei, unfortunately I have another meeting in a few minutes so we have to cut this short, but I think we have all we need. Are you immediately flying back or staying in the area for a while?"

Me: "Oh…um…wow that was fast. No, I'm actually catching a flight back in a few hours, I could only get away for this meeting."

John: "Oh okay well it's great stuff, Andrei, sorry about the rush. Pepe won't be taking you back, but I'll have someone call you a cab back to the airport, sound good?"

Me: "Sure, works for me."

John: "Again, I'm really sorry to cut this so short, but you know the saying, ‘time is money' and speaking of which here is your fee and a little something extra just for fun…a DVD of one of our latest productions.

Me: "Oh cool, thanks."

He hands me a check and a DVD titled, Assman's Bent Over Babes 7 which I just stare at with my mouth…for lack of a better word…gaping. Just then a tall blond woman in high heels and enormous fake breasts walks in and says, "John, your next appointment is here."

John: "Oh great, would you call Mr. Trostel a taxi back to LAX and send my next appointment in please?"

To be honest the rest was just kind of a surreal blur as I quickly exited the building and waited for the taxi to arrive. When it finally arrived and I got in, the taxi driver looked at the DVD I was still holding in my hand and said, "You've got to love the San Fernando Valley, eh?"

I simply replied, "LAX please and this is yours if you step on it."

I've never seen a cab drive that fast, but at least I wouldn't be stabbed by a pissed off Mexican.

Adele stars in "The Farmer in Adele"
Please don't sue me Adele, I had no idea.

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