For some reason I find myself thinking of Diana Rigg, with whom I enjoyed a brief Almost Friendship when I was doing my graduate work or whatever it was at Oxford one thinking summer. Can't remember who invited me to the evening where I met her, but we got on famously, as they say, though she was infinitely more famous than I. I told her I was going to Oxford, and she said "STOP IT!" I think she said it twice in that husky, veiled voice of hers. "STOP IT!" she said again, and I was immediately ashamed that I was doing anything as stupid as trying to be an Academic.
She invited me to come visit her home in London,-- she was married to Sir Archie Somebody, or Lord Archie Something, and as she was still in her beautiful, arrogant shell, playing badminton with him in their back yard, the marriage appeared very happy, though he was later to leave her for somebody a little famous-- I can't remember who-- and not nearly as talented. I suppose what triggered the memory was the Stargazer Lilies I mounted on either side of my couch, in my bought at Goodwill slender glass vases. When I went to Diana's house-- I imagine I should refer to her as the Lady Diana she was at the time-- I brought her Stargazer lilies. As she opened the door for me she burst into deep-throated laughter-- the pods or whatever they are that stick out of them had brushed my face very impressively, and left a dark brown trail. So she showed me to her little guest bath and I washed my face and had, I'm not clear on it, but I imagine, a very pleasant evening. Civilized, no doubt.
I had at the time a passionate agenda, of course, having recently finished THE WOMEN UPSTAIRS, my play about what the wives were doing during Plato's Symposium, and probably imagined, dreamed, fantasied, that she could play the lead, Socrates' wife Xantippe. It all sounds so improbably high-minded now. But remember, I was studying at Oxford.
Anyway, nothing ever came of it. I must have gone back to San Francisco where I was living at the time, because she came through in a play-- one of those two people things with reading letters-- and I went to see her. And she said "I'm surprised you're still speaking to me." So I suppose she had never even read it. But I wasn't angry or even, I don't think, disappointed, though she would have been wonderful, and the play might have just been a thinking woman's triumph. The moments that never happened-- those are the really big ones when you get to this turn in the road. But I still feel great affection and admiration for her and hope she is not having a hard time of it, Lord Archie having been a cad and all of us, no matter how glamorous(not me, She) growing older.
This looking back wistfully, and with a soupcon (there should be a tail on that c) of regret is exacerbated by my reading SILK LADY, my old novel that Warner Books thought would be a great bestseller but it was their first foray into hard covers and they hadn't gotten their hard cover chops yet, so they misfired on a number of levels, and the book didn't happen. Besides that I had forgotten it almost completely-- i'm not sure, really, exactly how it turns out, I am driven to read it because the walls here are paper-thin, my neighbors apparently have a great deal of time in which to complain, so I can no longer watch TV, under threat of Martial Law. As I had sent to New York for The Pretenders, imagining that with the success of I'LL EAT YOU LAST, the Bette Midler/Sue Mengers one woman show produced by Graydon Carter with great success, the early adventures of Sue Mengers, who was, until the publication of The Pretenders, my best friend, would be of great interest to the entertainment world and make for a fabulous mini-series. Sue was, of course, Louise Felder, my heroine, depicted I think pretty accurately and with great affection, but Sue didn't intend for me to be a hit without her having engineered it, so didn't speak to me when it became one.
Many years later, though, after Don died, she called me to praise and wonder over SILK LADY, in which there appeared the middle-aged Louise, who was Sue, and said "How did you know that about me?" I told her I'd always loved her, which was true, and so imagined how she had changed, grown, crystallized, hardened, whatever, and apparently got it right. I read this book now with Sue's eyes, wishing I could talk to her, which my adorable neighbor, Katy the Total Innocent, says I can. At any rate, I remember how the conversation ended, with Sue saying about Don: "And most of all, I remember how much he loved you," then slamming down the phone, leaving me with all my feelings hanging out. She did so love to be in control. But I still miss her. Can't wait to find out how SILK LADY ends, but don't imagine it's happy. Also it has too much sex, which I used to do. In novels, anyway.
I don't mean to be making such a foray into my past, but had to put aside WALDEN, which I was reading for the second time, or trying to-- Soooooo wordy, Thoreau must have had nothing but time-- and the only other books I have here are Lucky Me, Sachi, Shirley MacLaine's daughter's heartbroken memoir, not very well written, Tab Hunter's memoir, in which i appear briefly for my own early heartbreak(Tony Perkins) and Edna O'Brien's memoir. She was the writer I most wanted to be when I was young, August is a Wicked Month having struck me between the eyes and to the core, but this memoir, again, being wordy and a wee too Bog Irish to touch me heart.
Toby Rafelson took a really good picture of me sitting in front of my keyboard, which I have not yet learned to really play and am a bit afraid of because of the neighbors, but when I saw the picture I thought there should really be a book that could be on the back cover of-- and speculated about writing the next act of The Motherland, what's happened to my family since the end of that novel. But the spiritualist I met in Pavilions, in between the tomatoes and the prosciutto-- it is LA, after all,-- said I shouldn't write that as it is too dark and would bring me down and my aura is pure white and should stay so so I can make the world a better place. It is LA, after all. She was going to come and cleanse my shakra with her crystals, but has since disappeared. I hope to go to a better place.
Heidi, my beloved friend, child of my beloved friends, said to make sure I have all my credit cards.