Confessions of a Gary Coleman
By R.M. Monk
May 23, 2008 | So there I was, in Orem, in Applebee's,
eating my Weight Watchers-approved herb chicken with
broccoli (7 points), and I heard this odd, high-pitched
voice, the kind of voice you've heard somewhere on television.
Once, you stayed home sick from school and ate an extra
bowl of Fruit Loops in your underwear listening to this
voice on day-time-TV reruns. Only one person sounds
"Who the hell sounds just like Gary Coleman?" I wondered
as I turned my head.
It was Gary Coleman.
He was ordering something to-go from a waiter. I turned
to my friend dining with me.
"Dude, is that Gary Coleman?" I whispered.
He peered over the divider to get a better look, but
he could only see little black hands pointing to a menu.
"OK, thank you, sir, I'll get that right out to you,"
said his waiter.
Then, he sat down, directly across from us.
"Oh my God, it is. It's Gary Coleman in Orem," whispered
"And he's old," I added. He looked like a smaller,
darker version of Richard Nixon, jowls and all. His
biography on IMDB.com says he's 40 now, but he looked
more like 50.
"Should we say something to him?" asked my friend.
"Like what?" I said, "Hey, Mr. Coleman,
wha'cha doing in Applebee's? Ya like baby-back ribs?
Or do maybe something more appropriate like, 'I loved
you in Webster or Avenue Q?'"
Two grown men trying to stifle giggles weren't called
for in this situation. We didn't want to be rude. We
didn't want to cause a scene. We wanted to treat Mr.
Coleman with dignity, show him that Utahns are more
sensitive than the Hollywood crowds.
So we stalked him instead.
It just so happened that Mr. Coleman received his
order to-go when we got our check. My friend and I just
about died trying to get back to my car without laughing.
We were, and still are, huge dorks.
As Mr. Coleman started up his black Saturn SKY Roadster
complete with new dealer tags, totally a car one buys
to compensate for something, we realized we had three
hours to kill.
"Dude, let's stalk Gary Coleman," I said to my friend.
"You don't see anything wrong with two 6-foot-4
white men creeping behind Gary Coleman?"
"What else are we going to do today?"
Point taken, he said, and we were off.
Tailing someone in a car is much harder than it looks
in the movies. Such as, how do you follow someone when
you pulled out in front him to get out of the parking
lot? Answer: act like every other Orem driver and make
a turn into the left-hand lane without signaling, brake
suddenly, almost smash into the car behind you, then
double back and duck in behind the car that was originally
behind you. I almost killed us for Mr. Coleman's sake.
I surely hoped he noticed.
We got on the freeway headed south. Here's a little
fact about Mr. Coleman you might not know: that man
has a lead foot. I don't know if he saw us, but aegos
soon as he got out of the on ramp, he floored it to
85. My poor Chevy just couldn't keep up with Mr. Coleman's
"Dude, you just got ditched by Gary Coleman," said
We tried to catch up to him. We were like grieving
mothers looking for our departed children. And with
every small black roadster we saw, we hoped it would
be Mr. Coleman.
But, alas, Mr. Coleman was gone.
Now I must tell you something more. There was another
person in Mr. Coleman's car- a female, a good-looking
one too. We didn't know if it was his girlfriend, wife,
assistant or manager, but we did know this: she waited
in the car at Applebee's.
Maybe I was still suffering from Post-Gary-Coleman-Sighting
Depression, but I couldn't get this person out of my
mind. If she was Mr. Coleman's assistant, why didn't
she go into Applebee's while he waited in the car or
at least go in with him? If she were his significant
other, why would she send the famous person into the
public place? You'd think you'd want to send in the
non-famous person as to not cause a scene. Or maybe
that's what he wanted. Perhaps Mr. Coleman was trying
to use his star power to get himself a free herb chicken
with broccoli. Either way, that sucks—to be famous enough
get yourself a pretty assistant/ partner, but not to
be famous enough that she makes you go in to get your
own damn herb chicken with broccoli.
The next day my friend and I, still obsessing about
our encounter, happened to pick up a City Weekly
in Salt Lake. You'll never guess whom their main story
It was Gary Coleman.
The article said that after making the film Church
Ball, Mr. Coleman had decided to buy a home in Santaquin.
Somehow this information lessened my run-in with Mr.
Coleman. Him being in Orem will probably not be a rare
occurrence anymore. Our sighting won't be a unique one.
So please, if you see Mr. Coleman, don't stalk him.
Because you'll probably meet up with him again the next
time you're in Applebee's.