Johnny was unique in 21rst Century American society in many ways. A major difference between him and the rest of his world was that he honestly believed that no one was capable of anything but good, and that if you extend your helping hand, it will always be honored. He trusted everyone, suspected no one. He could not believe that anyone, no matter the expression on his or her face, intended anything but good.
Johnny told us, for example, that in Laos, once you get away from civilization and walk through the native villages, if a family discovers you on their land, they will come out — the whole family, kids, aunts, uncles, everyone — and greet you with soup and insist that you spend the night with them as an honored guest. This was Johnny’s usual experience in that undeveloped country. He would spend the night with the family. They would give him the best mat to sleep on, and the children would spend the night with him, playing with his blonde hair and laughing at his blue eyes (neither of which they had ever seen before). Then in the morning, when it was time for him to leave, the family would pack him off with a day’s supply of soup, and stand, weeping and waving goodbye to him until he was out of sight. He said that’s how they treat strangers in the villages of Laos.
Possibly he expected he would get the same treatment in Santa Monica.
Some years before “Sons of Anarchy,” Johnny, at a bar, spotted an unattended drink on the counter, and drained it. When the drink’s purchaser, a large and threatening type who was not on his first or second or third drink, returned from the Men’s room, and saw that Johnny had purloined his drink, he picked him up by the collar and was about to thrash him when he recognized Johnny as one of the stars of the FOX comedy, Quintuplets. “I love you, man! That’s my favorite show!” And the two of them had a lovely evening together.
He remarked to me once of a particularly long jog he took through our city one steamy August day and night. After clocking about twenty miles he found himself in an unfamiliar neighborhood, lost and overheated at 3 am. Spying an open gate with a swimming pool beyond, he stripped, jumped in, cooled off, then dressed and jogged off, refreshed. “What,” I asked, shocked, “would you have done if the property owner had caught you?”
Johnny shrugged. “I would’ve said, ‘Hey, I’m Johnny. Thanks for the pool, Man.’ What’s the problem, Dad? We’re all people.”
Well from that angle, I suppose there is no problem. How can we be trespassing if there are no borders? How can we be strangers if we simply introduce ourselves?