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Saturday, November 29, 1997
By Paul Ford
Quick Visit With an Old Friend
It's a cheap dinner after work; I just grab a gyro from the vendor on 50th St after work. I eat alone, watching the Fox News ticker. Suddenly, a Black Pontiac, vintage 1983, pulls up to the curb and flashes its lights. I say:
"Hey, my God, how's it going?"
"Hey, well, Paul," he says, a little dented and scratched, the dashboard dark, but still his old self, "it's rough. I'm trying, but it's not coming
"Is there still bad blood with David?"
"Hasselhoff? He doesn't have time for old friends. I begged him--I'm not ashamed, I begged him--for a role on Baywatch, I could just motor up and they could throw some sand on me, something like that, or I could drive underwater and save a drowning kid, you know, anything. But David, now that he's so big, he says, 'KITT, talking cars are done with.' And hangs up the phone."
"You two used to be pretty close."
"Sure were. It's my own fault, leaving my contract because I thought I was too good for the show. What was I thinking, that I could make it in theater, as a Pontiac? Except for that revival of Grease I haven't worked a day. I could do Moliere, I could do Shakespeare, but people only see 'car'."
"Well, you saved up, you got some money out of Knight Rider, right? And you get some residuals?"
"I was never scale; cars don't get paid scale. And I made some bad decisions. Didn't take care of myself. Lost a lot of money."
"No, premium gas." He paused. "And wax jobs." His lights dimmed and something beeped in the dark interior. He paused, then said: "Look, I just got a call, I've got to go, I'm picking up a delivery for a guy--no, don't ask, I can't tell you. You still live the same place?"
"No, I'm in Brooklyn but I'm in the book. Hey, it was good to catch up," I said, smiling falsely as the black windows rolled up, the red LED on his front swishing its goodbye. I waved, without vigor, as he turned and drove down Broadway.