(Standard Ballerball Disclaimer: None of this is true)
The story begins when I was walking around the streets of Oklahoma City last year during the NBA playoffs. OKC had just gone up 1-0 against the Heat in the Finals and I found myself at the bar of the Residence Inn. I ordered my usual and began to scan the room, taking in my surroundings. I couldn’t help but notice a ridiculously dressed man a couple of seats over. His wardrobe looked as if he went on an African safari and said “I want to wear all that”. I happened to catch a glimpse of a bright blue eye from underneath his wide-brimmed hat. He seemed familiar. Ah, Jimmy Goldstein, I recalled. The NBA Superfan. He attends around 110-120 NBA games every year. He’s quite mysterious though, and I was intimidated. I wanted to learn more about the guy, so I began asking a few questions. For whatever reason, on that night he felt like sharing. He told me to come closer. I moved to the barstool next to him. His eyes darted down to the hot pink faux-snakeskin handkerchief around his neck. “Go on, grab it.” he motioned. I did. And the following story was transferred to me via some Green Mile-esque vision:
Well my story really starts when I was a teenager living in Milwaukee. Through a family friend, I somehow got a gig doing stats for the Hawks. I didn’t care much about sports or basketball or anything really, but it was kind of a favor for a friend of my dad’s, so I did it. I was sitting right there courtside and I realized something. It was the perfect place to scan the crowd for beautiful women. And being a teenage boy, that’s usually what I’d do. Made it quite hard to keep accurate stats, but I didn’t care too much. I’d look for attractive girls for the entire game and usually it was pretty disappointing, being Milwaukee and all. But one night my whole life changed. I mean that. I really do. I looked across the court and about three rows up was the most gorgeous sight I’d ever seen. She was tall, thin, and blonde and looked about as out of place as I do at an OKC playoff game (no way in hell I’d wear one of those blue shirts). But this girl… I can’t even tell you.. I mean I’d be doing an injustice to try. She was simply radiant. And the cool thing was, she didn’t look much older than me. I was almost 16 and she looked 17, maybe 18. Now I don’t mean to be conceited, but I’ve always had quite an appeal to me. I don’t know what it is but I’m sort of magnetic when it comes to the ladies. Maybe it’s that my blue eyes are deeper than the Mariana Trench, I don’t know. Makes no difference, I knew right then and there I’d live a life of regret and sorrow if I didn’t at least try to talk to her after the game. So I vowed to myself I would.
When the final buzzer sounded, I headed in her direction. I really wasn’t too nervous. I just knew it had to be done. I lightly tapped her upper arm and she whirled around. Boy, it about knocked the wind of me. I swear it did. I steeled myself and said, “Hi Miss, I’m James.”
She smiled and said, “Well hello James, I’m Sophia.”
There was a brief pause and then I stammered, “P..Pleased to meet you, Sophia… Would you be interested in going dancing sometime?”
Now I’m not lying when I say this. I truly mean it. She looked genuinely saddened when she replied.
“James, I truly would love to. But I’m leaving tomorrow for Hollywood. First thing in the morning. I’m going to be in the movies.”
I was destroyed. “I don’t doubt you are ma’am. With looks like yours, that’s exactly where you belong.”
She frowned and emphatically grabbed my hand, “Maybe I’ll see you at a basketball game sometime. I very much love basketball.”
She joined her small clique and vanished into a sea of milquetoast Milwaukians.
I stood there like a goon. In a matter of moments my life had both found and lost all meaning. I resolved in those moments, standing in a dilapidated arena foyer, that I would do two things. 1) I would find a way to move to Southern California. and 2) I would go to as many basketball games as I could until I found her again.
I graduated high school and moved to California as planned. As soon as I stepped foot in The Golden State I felt at home: I knew my lovely Sophia was somewhere nearby. She had to be. I spoke to a few locals and found out about the “Lakers”. Then I did what I knew I had to do. I started going to every single game I possibly could.
But soon, I realized a couple of things. First of all, money was tight. Courtside seats were expensive (I sat courtside because, as I learned in Milwaukee, it was the best vantage point to scan the crowd. It’s how I found her last time and I hoped it would work again). I also realized that I needed to upgrade myself if I were ever to catch the eye of a Hollywood babe like Sophia. By “upgrade myself”, I mean everything. I used to live in a little apartment with my dog. I wore standard Midwestern garb, you know Levi’s, Red Wings, etc. I truly was a modest fellow. That would no longer cut it. I needed to be flashy and eccentric. I needed a house that would take your breath away. I needed clothes that were so beyond fly, they made people question everything they thought they knew about fashion. And for all of this I needed dough. I’d find a way.
Many people have theories about my wealth. Some say I was a porn director. Ha. Some say I owned trailer parks. That kills me. I love these rumors so much. I’d never do anything to impede their perpetuation. They humor me so. At any rate, the bottom line is… I got wealthy. Because I had to and that’s all you need to know. I began to study fashion and got acquainted with all the big designers. Jean Paul Gaultier, Claude Montana, Roberto Cavalli – those are my boys. They really are. I run with those guys all the time. I had to make a decision. Would I go for a dapper clean cut look? A suit and tie? I scoff at the notion. It’s truly so mundane. I went big. Snakeskin, crocodile skin, ostrich, python fur, a million wide brimmed hats. It’s so Jimmy. I spare no expense when it comes to looking sharp. It’s important. What if I bump into her? I must look my best at all times, but especially courtside. I go to Paris, New York, Milan, etc. I’m all over the fashion circuit. And now you know why. I think Sophia will appreciate it. I hope so.
People always want to talk about my house. My wikipedia page doesn’t even have a picture of me, just my lair. I understand. It is fabulous. Yes it was in The Big Lebowski. Yeah it was in Charlie’s Angels. Why wouldn’t it be? Sheats Goldstein is killer.
I bought it in 1972. It was in pretty bad shape, but I knew I had to make it mine from the first moment I saw it. Had to have it. The coolest thing about it to me was the way you could look right out the big windows and see all of LA. The sparkling, roaring city. She’s down there somewhere. I knew I needed a place that I wouldn’t be ashamed to bring her back to. You know, if I ever saw her at a game. Wouldn’t want to bring her home to some crummy flat somewhere. So I bought the Sheats Goldstein. I’ve been perfecting it ever since. I don’t remember one day in the past 30 years that we didn’t have construction crews here. I don’t know if it’ll ever feel good enough but when it does, I’ll know.
My business card says FASHION. ARCHITECTURE. BASKETBALL. Those are the things I love. I sometimes wonder how my life would’ve gone had I stayed in Wisconsin. Shoot, my business card might’ve said FARMING. LOAFING. MUNDANITY. I don’t know. But because of Sophia the whole trajectory of my life changed and I truly wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes I browse around on this little website called IMDB for hours looking for Sophia. There are 203 actresses named Sophia on that site. I’ve researched all of them. No dice.
Lifelong bachelor. Classic Jimmy G. That’s not to say I haven’t had my share of female companions. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never committed to a woman. But a man has needs. I ran around with Jayne Mansfield back in the day. She had the classic look not too unlike Sophia, but about 1/10th the radiance.
There are also rumors, I’m sure you’ve heard, that I shacked up with Marilyn Monroe. My lips are sealed. In the interest of full disclosure I also pal around with European models quite regularly. But nothing ever happens with them, I swear. I just read once in a GQ or some rag like that that if a woman sees you with another beautiful woman, she’s instantly more attracted to you. So that’s good enough for me.
It’s true I do run around with ‘Ye West. Not for any reason relating to Sophia or anything. I just find the beat to Love Lockdown very enjoyable. Heck, really all of 808′s.
But her words still haunt me. “Maybe I’ll see you at a basketball game sometime.” I’ve looked. My god, I’ve looked. And I’ll continue until I find her. Sophia, if you read Ballerball this is Jimmy. I don’t know your last name and I doubt you’d remember me. But I really do love you. If you’re even still alive, leave a comment. I check Ballerball first thing every morning.
With Love, James.