Oh how those seven little words have changed our lives forever.
A limo passes by Adam Sandler’s character, Happy Gilmore, and Gilmore says, “Woah, must be Burt Reynolds or somethin’!” Seems fairly innocuous doesn’t it? What began as four friends quoting a movie line whenever a limo passed by has somehow morphed into a semi-serious obsession in which our underwear (if we were wearing any) would be ripped off and hurled into the direction of any limo which may or may not have contained Burt Reynolds.
Unfortunately we did not get to show our support for Mr. Reynolds very often by hurling underpants toward him (due to the fact that none of us wanted to get arrested — again), so we had to devise other ways to show our true colors. Tony, Cameron, Scott, and I would regularly attend trivia nights at local coffee shops. Night after night, week after week, when asked for our team name we proudly wrote down “The Douglasville Chapter of the Burt Reynolds Fan Club.” If there was ever a question that we didn’t know the answer to we would generally write down anything about Burt or something from one of his many popular movies, assuming that it just had to be the correct answer. I mean, why would anyone ask a trivia question that did not involve Burt Reynolds?
In all seriousness, I do like Burt Reynolds. In fact, I have seen Smokey and the Bandit 20 or 30 times. Part of that is due to the fact that I didn’t have cable growing up and TBS was one of the few channels that came in clearly on my TV. But, I really do like the movie. So when Tony, Cameron, Scott, and I decided that we were taking a driving tour of the United States and would be spending time in Los Angeles we made it our mission to find, photograph, touch and drool all over Burt Reynolds’ star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Maybe it was the 20 straight hours of driving to El Paso that made us delirious, or the noxious fumes from my constant farting, but whatever it was we became more and more obsessed with Burt on our long drive through the deserts of the American Southwest on our way to the sacred star of Burton Leon Reynolds Jr. We even wrote a fan letter that, if ever published, will most certainly result in a restraining order.
Naturally, we would have gotten to Los Angeles much sooner had “The Bandit” been driving the 1989 Pontiac Bonneville, but we got there soon enough being chauffeured “The Tony,” sans Snowman. After settling into our hotel next to the liquor store and the gas station with the bullet proof glass in the not-so-nice part of Long Beach, Calif., we began to plot our adventures for the upcoming four days. In between getting naked and dousing each other with ice water (please read Dispatches from the Road: Icing the Bear), we decided to head out with our map — four wise men, following a star.
As we motored east, we encountered a sign that said “Welcome to West Hollywood.” One can only imagine our excitement as we closed in on the western half of Hollywood. However, Hollywood was not quite as we pictured it. There were rainbow flags on every streetlamp and we passed several shops with leather clad nearly naked mannequins in the storefronts. Then we passed the Out of the Closet Thrift Store. We thought the street decor was a bit unusual, but being that we were four males crammed in a sedan for days and sleeping two to a bed in a Holiday Inn, the same sex mannequins and rainbows didn’t bother us in the least. Heck, we felt right at home. As we passed a billboard with two shirtless men embracing I looked down at our map to find Hollywood Boulevard. As I scoured the map I noticed that not only were we not near Hollywood Boulevard, we weren’t even in Hollywood. We were in West Hollywood, a completely separate city. As my research would later reveal to me, West Hollywood may actually be the gayest city in the U.S.
We took the time to visit a small street cafe, where we sat and sipped sodas while watching men in Daisy Duke shorts with tiny dogs Rollerblade past, their shirts tied up suggestively over their superfluous nipples.
Sadly, we had to leave “WeHo” in our search for the star of Burt Reynolds, but we all still have fond memories of the rainbow flags and leather sporting mannequins. When we finally reached Hollywood Boulevard, we started walking up the street looking at every plaque with the hope that it might be the “unreachable star” of Burt. “Is that it!?!” one of us would shout. “No it’s Cher. Again,” another would reply. At one point the guys thought I found it because of my excitement upon reading the name on the concrete but when they approached a bewildered Scott said “Who’s Jim Nabors?”
“It’s Gomer Pyle from the Andy Griffith Show!” I shouted. “Here! Here! Take my picture next to it!” I am a huge Andy Griffith fan. My comrades, not so much. But I got my picture.
After walking up the street for at least a half hour and realizing that the other sidewalk had just as many stars on it we knew that there had to be a better way to find Burt Reynolds. What we really needed was a “map of the stars.” You wouldn’t think that a map detailing the location of every person’s star (or stars) that has ever been put on the Walk of Fame would be that difficult to obtain. But you’d be wrong. We found it quite difficult to get a map, for free, so we did the next best thing. We began asking everyone we saw if they knew where Burt Reynolds’ star was.
“Have you seen Burt Reynolds!?” I said as we approached a man kneeling on the ground posing for a picture with a star.
“No,” the puzzled tourist said as he got up from a star that said “Elvis Presley.” That guy looked at us like we were the crazy ones. So I shot him back a look that said without a shadow of a doubt “What’d Elvis ever do that was so spectacular? He never drove a black Trans Am from Texarkana to Atlanta and back in 28 hours, outrunning that old Smokey.”
Finally we came upon a thin, middle aged woman with light brown hair handing out some sort of flyers. We figured she was a local so she’d have to know where Burt’s star resided.
“Do you know where Burt Reynolds’ star is?!” Tony asked with a combination of desperation and excitement that only a fat man wearing a “motoring cap” can pull off. “We’re his biggest fans! We’re the Burt Reynolds Fan Club in Douglasville, Georgia!” The club was unofficial, but no one at trivia night ever challenged our allegiance to The Burt so I felt confident that this lady handing out flyers wouldn’t question our credentials.
“Well no, but I think that shop over there has a map in it where we can find it,” the woman said.
“OH MY GOD! This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to us!” Cameron said. We all were acting like excited schoolchildren in the presence of this complete stranger, but strangely, she didn’t seem to bat an eye. We followed her over to the shop where we went in and she asked the shopkeeper about Burt Reynolds’ star and he looked at a map that was under the glass countertop.
“About two blocks away in front of a movie theater,” the dirty hippy man said. We nearly knocked each other over as we scrambled out the door, but then we remembered our southern manners and let the flyer lady go first.
“You know I really love Burt Reynolds too! He was the hottest thing going in the late 70s and 80s,” she said.
“Was? You mean still is the hottest thing going!” I said. “It’s like his mustache gives him super powers of sexiness!”
“Oh I know! Have you seen his centerfold from Cosmo?” the woman asked, referring to the 1972 issue of Cosmo where a naked Burt Reynolds poses on a bear skin run. A photograph we had only known about because Cameron’s mom had the magazine and told us about it once she learned of our unhealthy obsession with Burt.
“He has it! He has it!” Tony, Scott, and I shouted in unison as we pointed at Cameron and jumped up and down, jubilant at this woman who apparently really did have some sort of Burt Reynolds fetish.
“Thanks guys,” Cameron said as we walked briskly toward the theater where Burt’s star lived. “Now I’m never going to get laid on this trip.”
“Oh sure you will,” Tony said with assurance. “We’ll just drop you off in West Hollywood on the way back to the hotel.”