"It's a Small World" is more than just a ride at Disneyland. We've all been in situations where coincidences just seem too, well, coincidental, leading to the use of that phrase as the logical explanation. Sometimes these coincidences are tenuously but clearly connected, and other times the connections appear completely and utterly unrelated. This is a story of a seemingly bizarre confluence of tennis, a barber, and a champion boxer named Sugar Ray.
I first met Julian in the back of an Airstream trailer. He was a barber, and I was someone in need of a haircut. Having just moved to a new part of town, I noticed his establishment parked on the corner next to the local Trader Joe's. I'd go running by it and peek in the windows, and one day I decided to give him a ring. The next day I arrived for my haircut and entered the trailer-cum-barbershop. It was nicely appointed given the limited space, with a small seating area, 3 barber chairs, and a small bathroom. Julian gave me a great cut, and he became my barber from that point on.
Not long after I began a new job with a company close to home. "Close" is a funny term, because while the distance from my house to my company shrank some 2500 miles, my commute went from 12 feet to about 12 miles. As noted in my previous post however, the move was a good one, (albeit rather short-lived, as the layoff fairy saw fit to pay us a visit last week). Working day in and day out with colleagues offered some nice perks, not least of which is the resumption of happy hour. And it was at one of these happy hours that things begin to dovetail.
I've been playing tennis for many years, and while at a bar having a drink with some coworkers, I was about to excuse myself so I could make it to practice. It turns out that another coworker is also a tennis fanatic, and she asked if I wanted to go play in a class at Sugar Ray Leonard's house the following week.
This may not need to be said, but if someone offers you the chance to play tennis at Sugar Ray Freakin' Leonard's house, you take them up on that offer.
And so I did.
It just so happened that I had a haircut appointment scheduled for that weekend, which at the time seemed completely unrelated. While sitting in that barber chair in the back of Julian's Airstream, he began talking about how he wants to expand his business, and casually mentioned that he already has one celebrity client. A few snips here and there, and he reveals that his celebrity client is in fact none other than Sugar Ray Leonard.
Imagine his surprise (not to mention mine) when I explain that not 4 days sooner, I had been invited to play tennis at Sugar Ray's house. We discussed it some more, and Julian and Ray have been friends for years, and since Julian started cutting hair, it was only natural that he would cut Ray's hair as well. Of course.
The following week I met the other people taking part in the class outside Ray's estate. We walked through the gate and made our way to the private court, decked out in a classy Wimbledon purple and green as opposed to the traditional green/red or the more modern green/blue color schemes. We were doing drills for about an hour when the man himself Sugar Ray came out to join us. He played with us for about an hour, which was easily the most surreal experience I've ever had on the tennis court.
Before he left I introduced myself and explained the strange coincidence of being invited to play and the fact that we happen to have the same barber. I think he was more surprised than I was.