Thursday, April 14, 2016


I am in New York, having issues of memory loss. I can remember 
so many things that were wonderful here, so many things.  I am thinking perhaps what I have forgotten it would be better to forget. My father beat my mother up here, he who became Mayor of Tucson.  My mother threw up from the floor we were on, down onto West End Avenue, getting drunk when he didn't get home, this woman who later conquered almost Kings.  Turning into a bad Fairy Tale.  So much dark stuff. 
      Do you mind if I share the difficult part?  I am hoping it I leave it all here, nothing will be left but the pretty stuff.  The old lady who might have been the adorable girl, the one who had no idea how much was in her, how much she had to offer, if she could only find someone to accept.  This woman who was hiding in her.
      It is easy to see if she leaves herself behind.  She has no way to stay, special as she might have seemed, though difficult.  She had no choice, but to do what she was inspired to.  Because she really seemed inspired, at least to herself.  For a while, anyway.  Till she came in contact with the Greats.  And some of them really Were. Gregory Peck, Cary Grant.  Not quite Marilyn Monroe, but almost. 
Marilyn offed herself (or was she killed?) just as the picture, WHAT A WAY TO GO, started being filmed.  Shirley MacLaine did the movie. 
       And suddenly she saw what she was supposed to.  At least what she thought what she was supposed to.  Life, passing before her eyes.  The little three year-old-boys in the park kicking soccer balls.  Or at least trying to learn to, nannys with their tissues ready to wipe, the just-out-of-diapers charges, clinging to the nanny's  skirts.
      A spectacular day: the sun shining on blossoming trees.  Black scarves across the faces of hooded Muslim women.  What the world has been on its glorious days, and the shadow on it.
      I miss all of you whom I really know, and those I just think I know, but maybe haven't a clue.  I do know a couple like that: mysterious celebrities.  But best are those with the open hearts.  The couple I met in the park today.  The handsome older pair on the bench, thinking up words for a wedding gift.  They'd lived together a long time in the town where I went to school: Darien, Connecticut.  Don't like Jews, really.  We were mostly Jewish students.  So the residents closed their curtains when we walked into town.
      And we did that often.  Once we did it when we heard they were in the railway station filming a scene from Gentlemen's Agreement, the big bestseller about anti-Semitism in America.  We went there to see. 
      Everybody got there when the train was pulling out but me.  I sat on the bench weeping, having missed my moment in life.  I was already an addict of movies, in love with movie stars.  Then it turned out the train had pulled in too far for the scene so they had to re-shoot it. And I was the only one who got to say hello to Gregory Peck.  He signed his autograph against my shirt.  I never washed it again.
        Then when I became a bestselling author, and published a novel called The Pretenders, the popular singing group named themselves after it.  I didn't find that out until many years later, but it made me happy.  When something makes you happy many years later, it's real. 
     As a bestselling author, in an era when people were really reading, I was invited to all the Hollywood parties.  And I got to officially meet Gregory Peck.  He really was Gregory Peck.  A great gentleman, as smart as he was handsome.  We became true friends.  I was his date at a dinner party for him when I was living in Paris, writing travel for the Wall Street Journal Europe, never imagining it would ever end--the paper, the friendship, any of it.
        So I think mine might have been a good story.  Even though the most of the stars that were in it aren't here to play themselves: Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant.  All of them Great Names in their Day.  I capitalize them because they're important.  At least they were to me.

          And I hope the will also be to you.