With the news that former child star and current tabloid laughingstock Gary Coleman, best known for his role as Arnold Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes, has passed on, I felt like the time was right to share a very personal anecdote of my time with Gary. You see, I worked with Gary at the turn of the century on a number of projects, but this tells about my first meeting with the man.
In 2000, I was working in an unofficial capacity for an Internet company that had hired Gary as a publicity venture. He had recently filed for bankruptcy, all of his Diff’rent Strokes earnings eaten away by his unscrupulous parents, and the company was helping him raise money with a telethon, auctioning off a date with him, selling his belongings on eBay, et cetera. I was invited to the company’s Christmas party that year, and decided to bring a date – a young woman I worked with at JP Morgan a short time previous. I had previously not held any romantic designs on her, but she had just been freed up from a lengthy relationship and I figured that I might have a chance abetted by free food, booze and holiday cheer.
Gary Coleman was also at the Christmas party. I had a disposable camera (and how 2000 is that?) and wanted to get a picture with him sitting on my lap for my Christmas cards. We approached him by the food table (where he was silently eating and not talking to anyone), introduced ourselves and asked him if he’d mind if we took a picture. He agreed to it, a friend set up for the shot.
As he was perched on my lap, Gary turned to my date. “So,” he said, “did you two come here together?”
“Yes, we did,” she answered.
“Well, you know that doesn’t mean you have to leave together,” Gary said with a sly smile.
We were both stunned. Had I just been… cockblocked by Gary Coleman? The girl and I never did get together, which was probably for the best, but the night has stayed with me forever. Goodnight, Gary, and may your final reward be better than that party.
Oh, and the picture didn’t come out.