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The Cuba Gooding Jr. Incident · 11 April 2015


Cuba Gooding, Jr. licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


I am not a rabid fan of anybody, but I was recently reminded of an incident we had with a celebrity. (It was not really an incident, but it sounds more exciting than a mere encounter.)


My wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, and I recently watched a movie called Life of a King, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. Mr. Gooding played Eugene in this enjoyable biography of a chess playing ex-con. About a week before that, we watched the movie Jerry Maguire with our kids. (Which, by the way, is not the best idea regardless of the age of your kids. There is one scene which is awkwardly uncomfortable to watch with anybody.) These two movies reminded me about our incident with Mr. Gooding at Disneyland many years ago.


Actually, it was not an incident. It was more of a sighting.


At any rate, we saw Cuba Gooding, Jr. at Disneyland when the boys were young. Thing 1 turned 14 while we were there, which means that his brothers were about seven and five. Which means that the two younger boys were not old enough to go into a public restroom by themselves. That was not where I first saw the celebrity (I thought I had seen him around the park earlier), but oddly enough, it was where we made eye contact.


Mr. Gooding was escorting what I assumed were his children to the restroom too. They were young and he was herding them around making sure they were safe. Just like I was. We made quick eye contact and each acknowledged the other with one of those almost imperceptible head nods during that herding process on the way into the restroom. It was like we were movie spies on the same team showing the audience our allegiance. In reality, we were just both being dads herding our young children from place to place in the magic kingdom.


We both pulled into the urinal stalls about the same time and I looked at his face to see if it really was him. He glanced over too, but neither of us said anything. Again, it was like that spy thing, but this time, we were both just obeying the rule about not talking to strangers. Or one of those unwritten rules about not talking to men across the dividers between urinals unless you are finishing a conversation or are related. At any rate, I verified that it was indeed the celebrity.


After we both herded our children out of the restroom (after washing our hands of course), I still did not speak to Mr. Gooding. Even though we were both waiting for our families in nearly the same location just a few feet from each other. And even though we had practically mirrored each other for the last several minutes. We pretended to be spies again instead of strangers who might have something in common and who just start up conversations.


The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi had no idea about this spy charade going on so when she met up with us, she went right over to Mr. Gooding and said, “I just love you,” as she touched him gently on the arm. He was speechless, but he smiled instead of calling security.


What shocked me, was that she had not said, “I love your movies,” or “I love the characters you play,” or “I love the fact that you and my husband are just hanging out pretending to be spies who know each other, but do not want anybody else knowing you know each other, even though neither of you have met the other. And who thought of this strange spy thing anyway? Is that just a man thing?” No. It was a simple, “I just love you.” I was not jealous or anything. I was just shocked at her word choice. So much so that they are forever ingrained into my brain. Even today I can still hear those words. “I just love you.”


Throughout the years, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi and I have talked about the Cuba Gooding, Jr. incident. She has given up arguing about what she said. In fact, she does not have any regrets that she got into the space bubble of a celebrity and declared her love. She even remembers the two-second encounter with fondness. And a sigh.


Regardless, I am still not jealous. I only regret that instead of keeping with the spy charade, I would have at least made some small talk before my wife had touched and talked to Mr. Gooding. Not because I wanted to meet a celebrity, but just because I would normally talk to a stranger in such a situation.


It is funny writing about the Cuba Gooding, Jr. Incident all these years later. The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi or I have told the story so many times that I actually thought I had already written it. (I actually looked back through all my Musings and found two mentions of the sighting. Those references seemed to indicate that I had already told the story.) But since I had not told the story in these pages yet, I figured I needed to do so. After all, even though I am not anybody’s rabid fan, I still like to tell the story of the brief encounter between The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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