I tapped my metro card as I shuffled onto the bus and hurried towards the back to grab a seat. It’s never very busy after 11 pm, but the driver is not one to patiently wait for you to comfortably nestle into a spot, so the quicker you sit down the less likely you’ll pinball down the aisle. A lesson I learned the hard way when I first started using public transportation and almost ended up tumbling onto a stranger’s lap!
I slid into my usual spot and planned to get research done via the Google (a.k.a. Memes) with the 20 minutes I had until my destination. I take a few late night bus trips home from work each week and prefer it over rush hour. Those who rarely use public transpo in Hollywood will wince at the perceived horrors that might take place at such a late hour, but in my experience besides the random drunk there is little that goes on. In fact, I’ve heard more exciting late night stories from Uber drivers than I’ve seen on the bus.
After I situated myself I looked up and was shocked at whom I saw sitting at the very front of the bus. Is that who I think it is? I must have missed seeing him in my rush to sit down?
His face was turned away from me, so I couldn’t be 100% sure. I surveyed the rest of the bus to see if anyone could validate my finding. You guys see who’s on the bus with us? But the other passengers were clearly not amused as the guy behind me was passed out and the other was busy quietly arguing with an invisible enemy beside him. Ok…they’re no help. It has to be him though, right? He has a tunic on!….oooorrr is that a blanket he’s wrapped up in and he’s just another homeless person? I decided to move in closer for inspection.
When the bus made the next stop I made my move and relocated two rows behind the familiar figure. In doing so I was able to confirm that it was in fact a white tunic draped around him and noticed he even had sandals on! He turned his face towards mine and we locked eyes. Ok the beard completes the look. I should just ask him so I can take a pic for my mama. She’s gonna LOVE this!
It was obvious that I had changed seats and I’m sure curiosity was painted across my face, so I interpreted the slight nod he gave as an invite to ask him…
“Are you….are you Hollywood Jesus?”
He sat silent, smiled and shrugged his shoulders as if to say – what gave it away?
I knew it! I asked if I could take a picture to which he agreed and began positioning himself as if he’d done it 1,000 times. I moved, yet again, to the bench across the aisle from him so I could fit all of his holiness in the frame. I snapped a few pics and thanked him. Realizing I had change instead of cash on me I apologized as I began digging through my purse.
For those of you not familiar with how it works the rules of thumb are that if you ask a character for a pic- you give them at least a dollar or two. Typically this is true for the tourist area around Hollywood and Highland where you’ll find the likes of “name-a-comic-book-character” or “name-a-princess” or most certainly “Michael Jackson”. Though this shepherd was far from the walk of fame flock I certainly didn’t want to offend him. Before I could find my quarters he stretched his arm towards me with something in his hand-
“Did you need a dollar?”
I shook my head and clarified, “Oh no- I wanted to tip YOU but I don’t have cash.”
He put his dollar away and told me that he did not accept money. Hmmm….that’s curious? I mean it fits the profile, but still unexpected. I stopped digging for change and being that I didn’t want to make things awkward by relocating again I remained sitting across from him where we silently sat facing each other….however, still somewhat awkward.
Now what? Do I small talk with the King of Kings? What should I ask him? I’m too nervous…why am I nervous?? You know this isn’t really Jesus, Katie, right?
Yup. I was pretty damn giddy and a little nervous even if it was fake Jesus. Y’all have to understand that I grew up with this guy! I’d compare it to those adults who get excited over meeting their favorite Comic Book or Disney character. You know it’s not real, but nostalgia rolls over you like a tidal wave and childhood memories come washing in. I read all his books! I watched all his movies! I probably had his action figure! I told myself to settle down and managed to start off strong with,
“So…how long you been doin this?”
He looked confused. I felt dumb. Is this a shtick? Maybe he thinks he is the Son of God? Maybe he just likes to dress comfortably and thinks I’M A NUT for wanting a pic of him?
Then he said, “You must be a… blogger?”
“Yes!” Wait…How did he know that? Maybe it’s a safe guess these days, but still pretty random??
He motioned for me to take the seat next to him so that he could hear me over the white noise of the bus. He asked what the blog was about, so I explained the gist of it….”the practice of self-love fuels Soulshine (positive vibes from within) which will pour out onto those around you and hopefully inspire them too!” He seemed to like that and then asked where I was from. I said, “Ohio. You know….the Bible belt.” We covered more small talk to which he spoke of growing up near LA and about his mother who was known as a “stage mom” and how he grew up in theater which he seemed fond of. While I was happy to listen as he jaunted down memory lane I couldn’t stop wondering why he was in this get-up and what the point was if not money. I was going to have to get off the bus soon, so I politely interrupted him-
“I’m sorry, but my stop is coming up. Can I ask what your name is?”
With a big smile he said, “You can call me, mi amigo.”
Hmmm…that wasn’t the answer I was expecting?
“Alright, mi amigo, are you walking around spreading the Gospel? Do you have a special message? Or did I severely misinterpret the look you have going here?”
He laughed and after a few seconds told me his message was that he loved me. Woot! I’ve got an endless well of that love stuff, so without missing a beat I replied in kind. He shook his head and chuckled while he said,
“Nah I’m kidding- What’s my message?….Hmm…What. Is. My. Message? Well my message is kind of like yours (referring to Soulshine247). In fact I think I’ll adopt it as my own!
I laughed and like an overeager boob I couldn’t get the next sentence out of my mouth fast enough,
“Actually I’m pretty sure I took that message from you in the first place.”
Why yes I did throw a dad joke at mi amigo! I might have even pointed the finger guns at him while I said it too. And he caught that sucker like a pro! How do I know? Without as much as a smirk he told me to hold on as he retracted both arms into the tunic. I wondered what he could possibly be digging for. At this point I had qualified him as sane, but let’s be real, who the hell knows what wonder he’s going to pull out from under that cloth?
Then I hear – WAH-WAH-WAAH-WAAAAAHHHHH. You know what that guy whips out?? A Kazoo! FAKE JESUS one-ups my dad joke with ANOTHER dad joke by pulling a KAH-ZOO out from under his TUNIC, puts it up to his mouth and plays the classic “swing-and-a-miss” tune!
All I could do was laugh.
We reached my stop, so I thanked him for his time and gathered my things. He asked me to wait and began to dig in his pocket again only this time for a trinket to give me. This is it! This is the part where he gives me the thing that makes the last 20min make sense and sends me off more enlightened than before. I held out my hand. Time was running out so as soon as he placed the item on my palm I closed my hand around it and zoomed off the bus.
I stood on the sidewalk and watched in fascination as Jesus rode off on the 2.
I looked down puzzled at what he had passed off to me.
A whistle? If he told me the significance of it I didn’t hear him. The only words I heard him yell as I was running out the door were-
“Make sure to run some hot water through that before you put your mouth on it!”
Solid advice, fake Jesus man. Solid advice.
What does any of this mean?
Just a random Tuesday night bus ride home in Hollywood shared with, mi amigo.
And one I certainly won’t forget.
Shine on, friends. Xx