Saturday, March 26, 2011

Liz and Me

Allow me to try your patience by adding a few more words to the millions already penned and processed on the death of Elizabeth Taylor.

First off, I would refer you to an article in the New York Times by the indefatigable Dick Cavett. As a brief personal take on the Lizanddick
era, it's worth a read.

Then there's the story-captured-in-a-caption in The Onion, an item that has challenged press critics as to its editorial appropriateness, even conceding The Onion's self-appointed role as edgy iconoclast.

And, finally, there's the story of Liz and me.

One of the great untold sagas of unrequited love in the last century was my own obsession with Liz. It got underway in wartime, the background of so many equally doomed romances. In 1944—when I was 14 and she 12—I emerged from the dark confines of our local movie palace having watched National Velvet, the stars in my eyes undimmed by the post-matinee sunlight, entranced by my first passionate crush.

Fast forward six years to the Hurricane Club, an upscale eating spot built on pilings in the shallows of Biscayne Bay between Miami and Key Biscayne well before the advent of the bay-spanning Rickenbacker Causeway. You could only get there by boat, and my ride that day was a 19-foot sailboat, helmed by my college roommate, Jack O'Leary. As we pulled up to the club's dock to tie up—a frosty Bud in mind—I glanced up, and there, leaning over the deck rail watching us, was the goddess herself. To say that I was stuck dumb at the vision is to stretch rhetorical understatement to the limit. She was accompanied by her then-boyfriend Glen Davis, the Heisman-winning "Mr. Inside" of West Point's famous "Touchdown Twins", of which Doc Blanchard was "Mr. Outside".

The couple was waiting for guests to arrive for a private luncheon, so the four of us were as yet the only patrons lounging around the deck. O'Leary and I, sophisticated, celebrity-immune New Yorkers that we were, pretended ostentatiously not to notice the glamorous duo, while they, used to such transparent pseudo-indifference, were of course well aware of our surreptitious glances. Lord, was she gorgeous! The countless words that have been written about her breathtaking onscreen beauty cannot begin to convey the punch-in-the-gut impact of an in-the-flesh encounter. At 18, wearing a violet bathing suit that mirrored the color of her eyes, her voluptuousness was simply beyond the descriptive ability of mere words, or, at least, of any that haven't lost their power through overuse.

Draining our barely-affordable beer, Jack and I reluctantly peeled ourselves away and re-boarded our boat. As I loosed the mooring line, the goddess, again leaning over the rail, asked me if I knew what time it was. SHE SPOKE TO ME! SHE ACTUALLY SPOKE TO ME! Still unable—Koothrappali-like—to utter a word in her intoxicating presence, I had, to my shame and chagrin, to leave it up to O'Leary to respond. As we set our sails, he shouted out a farewell so inane that it has haunted me all these years just to have been associated with it: "see you in the movies", he yelled, as I cringed in the cockpit. I've never forgiven him, nor forgotten her.

RIP, girl of my youthful dreams.




1 comment:

  1. Of course it's unforgettable -- and beautifully told! I'd urge you to keep a copy of this and think of putting it in next year's Reflections for ALL -- I think she was a goddess for most of us.