In my previous article, Fast Times At Bayside High, I looked back on one of the best college courses I ever took: Storytelling. I shared some of the great stories from that class, including a few of my own. It went so long though that I had to break it up. So now I’ll share my third and final story from that semester. Also, stay tuned to the very end — I conducted an interview with Cylk Cozart back in 2009 regarding his Saved By The Bell cameo and much more.
THE FINAL STORY
No rest for the wicked! Right after Zack’s War I started thinking about what my third and final story might be. It had to be better than my first two. One day I was perusing the children section of my library looking for inspiration. It hit me in the form of BASEBALL SAVED US. It’s an awe-inspiring story about a young spirited Japanese boy’s experience in camp in 1942 — the year when all people of Japanese descent living in America were put into camps due to the government’s increasing paranoia. Many decades later, 1988 to be precise, the US government admitted their wrongdoing. I love baseball and found much breadth in this tale of survival and hope. I decided to adapt BASEBALL SAVED US for my final story until fate stepped in. One day in December of 2003 I came across a hilarious story I read online. I loved it so much that it bumped Baseball Saved Us.
The story was a little short though, so I fleshed it out by incorporating a fun rapid fire scene from an old childhood favorite of mine, Happy Ghost III. For those unfamiliar to the Happy Ghost series, it was a comedy franchise consisting of five films from 1984-1991. It’s totally a product of its time and it’s super cheesy but I find a lot of charm in that.
So, adapting one scene from Happy Ghost III and jamming it with the online story I read, I had a full and proper story to end things with a bang. I called it AFTER FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH… BUT BEFORE AMERICAN PIE… THERE WAS A GUY… NAMED ALAN Y. The title was so long that it stretched all the way across the white board. I remember my classmates clamoring about it when they saw the ridiculously long title on the board. They knew they were in for quite a treat.
Do you believe in true love? Do you believe that there’s someone out there for everyone? Well, this is a story about me and my dear sweetheart, Katy. As you can probably infer from the title of this story however, this isn’t exactly your run of the mill sappy love story. But first, let me tell you how Katy and I met.
It was my first day of my senior year in high school… but for most others it was the 5th week of school. Yeah, I changed schools. But let’s not talk about why. So I’m cruising the parking lot for a spot and there’s one left. That’s when I saw this goofy looking teacher heading for it too. All’s fair in love and war… and parking spots I always say.
Guitar in one hand and comb in the other, I got out and waved to all the honeys drooling at me.
The goofy teacher made some lame remark but I paid it no mind.
Whatever! The chances I’ll get him are like 1 in 200 anyway.
My first class was music. It was 8:10 and as usual, I made a dramatic and fashionably late entrance. Sliding into the room on my knees, I cranked up my guitar and sang.
Still like that old time rock ‘n roll!
That kind of music just soothes the soul!
I reminisce about the DAYS OF OLD…
With that old time ROCK ‘N ROLL!
“Hey hey hey! You?!?”
I’ll be damned! It was the goofy looking teacher from earlier in the parking lot.
“What are you doing here?” he bellowed.
“What is your name?” he demanded.
I turned to face my classmates and saw a handful of beautiful lasses. Suddenly I remembered why I never dropped out, despite being 19 and flunking a grade prior.
“My name is Alan… Alan Y. I’m a good guy. I only drink and smoke occasionally. I make lots of money betting on horse racing and I love taking cute young girls out to dinner, such as you, you AND YOU — on the house!”
“Stop right there! Sit down.”
I took the empty seat next to a precious little thing. Katy, as I’d come to know.
“Hey good looking. I’m here now, so what are your two other wishes?”
“Better do as he says, or the poor son of a bitch will have a heart attack.”
I went over to the corner as requested but the teacher kept coming at me.
“How old are you?”
“How old is that?”
“Makes me 19.”
“He’s a prime example of how you DON’T want to be in life… so take a good close look at him and consider yourselves WARNED!”
“You said my IQ is low but can you spend the shortest amount of time to answer me three simple questions?”
After class Katy came up to me. “That was awesome! A little mean, but I never laughed so hard in my life before!”
“Just another day at the office. He had it coming.”
“I suppose he did!”
“Hey, wanna grab a bite to eat?”
Katy and I hit it off. We became a couple later that week. We were madly in love and we were so happy. Katy and I had been dating for over a year. We decided the time was right to get married. My parents helped us in every way and my friends encouraged me. And Katy? She was a dream come true.
There was only one thing bothering me, very much indeed. That one thing was her older sister, Tammy. My prospective sister-in-law was 22 years old, wore tight mini skirts and low cut blouses. She would regularly bend over whenever I was around. It had to be deliberate. There are worse things in the world that could happen to a guy, of course, but I was never good at fighting temptation and I didn’t want to do Katy like that. Simply put, Tammy was like a box jellyfish. Absolutely mesmerizing, but equally and potentially fatal.
One day Tammy called and asked me to come over to check the wedding invitations. I thought nothing of it and drove over. When I arrived, it turned out that she was alone…
“Uh, where’s Katy?”
“Of course… when will she uh, um, be back?”
“A couple hours.”
“What about uh, your um… parents?”
“They won’t be back til dinner.”
I cracked a nervous smile. Tammy’s tone was too suggestive. Too seductive. The next thing I knew, she walked over to me and whispered in my ear that soon I was to be married, and she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn’t overcome. Didn’t want to overcome. She told me she wanted to make love to me just once before I commit the rest of my life to her sister.
I was absolutely stunned and at a loss for words. She continued lustfully, “I’m going upstairs to my bedroom now… feel free to join me…”
Frozen like a statue, I watched her go up the stairs. When she reached the top she pulled off her pink panties and threw them down at me.
“TAKE ME, TARZAN!”
I watched as Tammy disappeared into her room. I couldn’t help but imagine what she was doing in bed. I knew EXACTLY what I had to do. Without wasting another second, I turned around and headed straight for the front door. I made a beeline for my car, but I didn’t make it very far.
My future father-in-law was standing right outside. With tears in his eyes he hugged me and said, “We’re very happy that you’ve passed our little test. We couldn’t have asked for a better man for our Katy. Welcome to the family!”
The moral of this story is…
Always keep your condoms in the car.
A thunderous silence fell over the Storytelling class for about two seconds. Then came the “ohhhhs” and riotous laughter when people started registering what happened. Priceless! I sat down and they went on with their feedback. They loved the humor in the story, the rapid fire exchange between Alan and his teacher, and the “moral” of the story was a big winner as well. I aced the class. This third and last story was probably my strongest story of the three I told. I’m glad to have gone out with a bang.
Looking back on my college years, I had my fair share of fond memories. Inevitably, I always think back to the friends and unforgettable experiences. That includes the great Storytelling class I took during the fall of 2003. From the camaraderie and stories my classmates and I shared to the crazy professor we had, it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken in my life. It was a makeshift campfire every Tuesday and Thursday where we celebrated the human spirit and shared moving stories… emotional ones and entertaining ones alike. We all have interesting stories waiting to be told. A great story lives on and is passed from generation to generation. It stands the test of time. Maybe the next great story the world will hear… will be your very own.
CYLK COZART INTERVIEW
I emailed Mr. Cozart June 2009 in hopes of scoring an interview with him. He reached back and the following Q&A was conducted on July 3, 2009. Enjoy.
PS- Read Fast Times At Bayside High for context if you haven’t yet.
- 1). Any stories or memories you can share about working on the episode Zack’s War? What was it like working with the cast and crew, specifically Mark-Paul Gosselaar (whom you shared the majority of your onscreen time with)?
Mark was one of the most gracious actors that I’ve worked with. Very kind and funny. Great guy. Everyone loved him.
- 2). How aware of the show Saved By The Bell were you prior to signing on for this one episode?
I had never seen the show until I got the offer. A lot of my friends had seen it and told me about every one of the characters. I knew all of them when I walked on the stage for the first time.
Any time that I have ran into any of the cast, we always hug and talk about that episode. And laugh for about 10 minutes. LOL!!!
- 3). When was the last time you saw Zack’s War and what are your thoughts on how that episode came out? Personally speaking, it’s one of my all time favorites for ANY sitcom.
I see that show all the time. So many people of all ages see that particular episode and I have gotten as much attention from Saved By The Bell as a lot of movies that I have made. I have several friends and family members who will never let me forget it. I loved every minute of it!
- 4). You have been in over 30 movies and 20 television shows, what is your proudest moment as an actor? (i.e. was there a specific film you’re most proud of?)
That would have to be WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP. Ron Shelton (Writer/Director) is and always will be in my life.
Wesley Snipes and I keep in touch on a regular basis. But one of my best friends in LIFE is Woody Harrelson. We have become very close friends since we met on the first day he came in to audition.
I was set to play Sidney Dean. Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves both came in to audition while I sat and read with them. At the end of all the auditions, Ron asked me who I felt the most comfortable with and I said hands down, Woody.
The next thing I know, 20th Century Fox called Ron and said to put Wesley in the lead because New Jack City, Wesley’s film that just came out at the time, was a hit movie and Wesley was hot! They loved me but gave me a co-starring role.
That was the “worst” day of my acting life I thought. But once Ron took me to dinner and explained how the studio system worked, I felt a little better. Still it hurt so bad.
Ron told me that he and I would make many many more films together. We have already made three: White Men Can’t Jump, Play it to the Bone and Blue Chips.
- 5). How old were you when you first got into acting and what originally intrigued you about acting?
I used to watch Andy of Mayberry and The Beverly Hillbillies everyday. That made me aware of HOLLYWOOD. But growing up in Tennessee, there was no way to even know how to get there. But I figured it out
- 6). Which do you prefer: acting in films or acting in plays? (I have done both and I myself much prefer theater; nothing beats that raw LIVE “one take, no net” element).
There is nothing like that direct response from a live audience. Like live theater. Playing basketball in front of thousands of people while in college, was just like doing a play to me… in a way. So I loved the stage from the start.
Film is the most rewarding as far as exposure to so many people is concerned.
- 7). You were about six years old when Martin Luther King Jr. made his infamous “I Have A Dream” speech. Where were you that day and what were your memories of that time frame in the ’60s when racial tension was running incredibly high?
I’m a product of the ‘Baby Boomers.’ I was right in the middle of the SOUTH, Tennessee. Where the KKK “originated.” It was Hell for my family and friends. I remember most of that time at that young age.
Check this out, within a 6-month time frame, King was killed. 2 months later, Kennedy. After that, students from Kent State had their heads bashed in race riots. Charles Manson Sharon Tate Murders, Vietnam. Most of our parents were either pot smoking hippies or trying to join the Black Panther party. Those were the times that we lived in.
Note: ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, directed by Quentin Tarantino, is set to be released on July 26, 2019. Starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, critics predict it will be one of the most successful films of the year. In 1969 Los Angeles, a former Western star and his longtime stunt double struggle to find success in a Hollywood that they don’t recognize anymore. Sharon Tate is their next door neighbor, and the infamous Manson Tate murders will be featured in the film. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is sure to be the hit of the summer.
- 8). Ever look back and wonder what would have happened if you never suffered that foot injury in that one NBA Summer League game? Was that your greatest regret in life? Or do you believe everything happens for a reason?
Every day, I think about “What If”???? Then right after that thought leaves… I think that nothing ever stays the same in life. It can’t and expect to survive. So I don’t hold on or regret anything. I am living my dream. I played pro basketball AND I am working with the most wonderful people in the entertainment world!!!! I have so much to be thankful for when you break it down.
- 9). As someone who has seen and done a whole lot, what advice in general would you give young people as they march through the trials and tribulations of life?
I would say to them first… “How well do you take the word “NO”? I would tell them, not to worry about what other people think of their work or performance. But work on your craft so you can always be your best critic.
This is an ART. You have natural ability but you must train as a pro athlete trains before the season. They work out so hard before the games, that the actual game is FUN. Same as an actor. Train your mind, body and soul for whatever you want to make a living.
Thank you for the interview!
In late 2016, actress Nikki Estridge submitted a DNA test because she couldn’t shake the feeling that she didn’t look like her siblings. Sure enough, she discovered that she was 32% African American, and she also found out that her dad is Cylk Cozart.
Nikki called her dad on Father’s Day to break the news. The two quickly met up and began making up for lost father-daughter time. It’s a touching story that’s worth a read! Cylk didn’t know that he had a daughter, or that she was married with kids! So he also realized he was a grandfather. What a crazy story! Congratulations to the Cozarts for their incredible reunion and new life