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John Ellis / Blog

Not My Shirt.

I’ve got to tell somebody this story; it’s more than just bazaar it’s so far-fetched I don’t even believe it myself, well here, you can decide for yourselves. A few years back I was enjoying some well earned R&R in Casino-Rama just north of Toronto, perhaps it wasn’t quite so much the put your feet up kind of R&R but more of the hard at it kind of R&R, it gives a more accurate picture of the way things were, I think.. Of course there are lots of things to recall from the event but I might as well get right to the point. You’ve heard of the expression “I lost my shirt”, well I lost my shoes, and to make things more humiliating I lost my socks as well, but that’s other story. Yes I still had my shirt, and my trousers for that matter, but it's still not that easy to walk around a casino without causing earthy gawks and stares, never mind the insults and offensive remarks. It was probably just in my mind but still I felt very centered out through the whole affair, trying to keep out of sight from the other guests and dodging from doorway to curtain. If you could’ve seen me with one foot trying to hide the other, as if that would help. Anyway. As I was making my way down the hallway to a less populated spot I ran into who do you think? Probably the last person anyone could possibly imagine. Jay Leno, yes Jay Leno right ahead of me, you know the one with the TV talk show. Now clearly a lot of you may not realize this, but Jay and I go back a long way, even before his early successes with comedy clubs, when we were still sewing our wild oats, and we sewed a few extra rows together let me tell you. Glancing back he spots me, and then my bare feet and then gives me his big face smile, not to mention his entourage who also joined in on the silly smiling. “Johnny” he cries with an earsplitting voice, “What the hell are you doing here?” I’m speechless, "I live around here"- doesn't get even out of my mouth before he speaks again. “This is great” he said all chuckles, glancing down at my feet again with a questioning frown. To say I was mortified would be putting it lightly, I felt about the same size as a mole scrambling blindly across the hall carpet, trying to make it to the other side before being trampled. It's been a long time since I'd seen him and he's a big star now. Intimidated I beckoned Jay to one side and ask him quietly if he could please find me an extra pair of shoes and socks, he would surely have an apartment here in the casino, I thought. He suddenly reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet, now I felt even worse, it looked like I was asking him for money. Sure enough he flicked out three crisp one hundred dollar Yankee greenbacks and tried to stuff them into my hand unnoticed, I pushed them away whispering “no no no”… "Jay, I don’t want money", "I just want to borrow an old pair of shoes and a pair of your smelly old socks" that's all. By this time I was desperate to make my case to my old friend, “I don’t care if they have holes in them” I blurted, “and the shoes can be odd ones if you like”. Well you should have been there; no one would’ve wanted to be in my shoes at this brutal moment, if I had any shoes that is. By this time the whole damn place was alive with Leno fans and me, with my bare feet, in the middle of it, it was insane. Talk about being the center of attention, if I didn’t know any better I would have sworn this was just another unbelievable dream and then I woke up… Written by: John Ellis