Baxter Mason really knows how to tunnel into my heart about one million times a day, but yesterday he took a walk on the dark side. Still being a 75-pound puppy, he can’t usually go all night without needing a potty break. So, somewhere around 4-6AM The Spousal Unit will get up and let him out into the yard for the pause that refreshes. We can’t leave him out there, however, because to date he has dug 20′ long tunnels in the centipede grass, dug up newly planted flowers, destroyed a fountain, and eaten whole logs intended for the firepit. All of our outdoor lighting has been eaten and all the wiring now lives on top of the lawn, not underneath. Somewhere in his digestive tract lie the remains of my favorite patio chaise lounge chair. Our only alternative, if we want to sleep another hour or two, is to put him on a short leash in a guest room on the other side of the house. The Unit removes anything that could be in harm’s way and back to sleep we go.
Yesterday, on my way to our office, I glanced in the guest room and noticed a king-sized daffodil yellow chenille bedspread is missing. “Unit, did you put the guest spread in the laundry?”
“Because it’s missing.”
“It can’t be; it was on the bed this morning.” A full scale military search was launched for the M.I.A. spread. With the wile and cunning of Detective Clouseau, I began to find small tufts of yellow chenille under the bed. You guessed it! He didn’t just rip or tear this thing; HE ATE IT….ALL! I must say his poop is a most cheerful shade of yellow, and adds a colorful air of Easter to the yard.
Thirty-four years ago, in April 1977, I was experiencing a very different kind of Easter. I had a wonderful friend from Dallas named Shannon. I met her in her early days at Wilhelmina, when she was in the newby stage of her career. I was fairly well established by then and was very happy to show her the ropes. We became very close friends, but I was sad and surprised that she never had a single booking in New York. She was 6′ tall, slim as a reed, with white blond hair, and ice blue eyes. She had one of those 10,000 kilowatt smiles that lit up a room. When we’d board a city bus or walk into a restaurant, everyone would fall silent; that was the strength and impact of her beauty.
She managed to get some work in Brazil and came back radiantly happy and glowing, with a Brazilian Vogue cover and a new husband as trophies. Fernando was model handsome and worked for one of the biggest ad agencies in New York. One night over dinner Fernando suggested that I might like to meet his boss, Jack, a 36-year-old divorced man, who had been a Dee Jay in Los Angeles prior to a very successful career in advertising. He had created a slew of TV commercials that I was familiar with and had won several Clios (the ad biz’ answer to the Oscars or Emmys) for his efforts. I wasn’t appalled by the idea, but I wasn’t jumping up and down either. Work was my entire universe and I honestly hadn’t given men or dating a thought since I was sixteen (we are of course excluding the entire 8 years of the Boy debacle!). Perhaps it was time to take this dating thing out for a test drive.
Fernando arranged for the four of us to meet at Jack’s penthouse apartment in midtown for drinks, and then head down to the Village for dinner. To understand how out of character my behavior was on the Wednesday of that blind date, you need to know that I’m not a ‘shopper girl‘. I have patience for shopping for maybe one or two hours max, and then I want nothing more than to collapse into a vat of nachos and margaritas. I’d be in heaven if I could simply wiggle my nose Bewitched style and have fashionable, functional clothes magically leap into my closet. A POX ON SHOPPING! So, it was with great surprise that I told my agency I was taking a day off and would be unavailable for bookings or appointments, and that I ended up spending SIX hours in Macy’s looking for exactly the right thing to wear!
I found myself uncharacteristically nervous and amped up, like a wild cat catching the scent of something edible in the wind. I ended up assembling a gypsy outfit with a peasant blouse and twirling skirt, and layers of fringed shawls. Remember, children, the late 70’s were almost equal to the 1980’s fashions in terms of ‘Too Much Ain’t Never Enough‘, to steal from The Lone Star Cafe motto. I topped it off with shiny black patent leather boots with 5″ stiletto heels. These fashion details factor prominently in this story, so pay close attention. I remember going to a bank of pay phones in Macy’s outer lobby and calling my mom FOUR times to discuss the merits and wisdom of buying a pair of gold fan earrings that cost a whopping $100. Remember I’d just been fired from my waitressing job on Saturday. I didn’t treat myself often, but they were perfect for the gypsy outfit. I bought them and still have them in my jewelry box to this day.
I can’t explain why I was so nervous on the long bus ride up to meet Shannon and Fernando. Hell, it was just dinner, and I knew how to eat, so what was the big deal? If Jack turned out to be a troll, at least I’d go home with a full belly. When he answered his apartment door, the seas parted, angels sang, and I just stood there staring, mouth hanging open catching flies. No one had mentioned he looked exactly like Robert Wagner in his heyday.
He was 6’3″, slim, and beautifully dressed, but the piece de resistance came when he spoke. Have you ever had dark melted chocolate slowly, tantalizingly dripped all over your body? Yeah, well, this was better! If we had been comic strip characters, this is where Pepe Le Pew would have had dozens of tiny red hearts floating through the air and Cupid shooting lust arrows straight into his girlfriend’s heart.
Jack poured us all wine and led us on a tour of his penthouse apartment on the 13th floor. It was actually a house built on the roof of a 12-story building, so there were extensive terraces and balconies and widow’s walks all around it. He proudly led me to his stereo credenza to show off his prized Chicago jazz collection. I set my glass down to pick up an album cover and the fringe on my gypsy shawl caught on the stem of the glass and sent it spilling all over several albums. In my mortification I stepped backward and heard an awful crunching sound from underneath my stiletto heel. That’s right, kids, I’d just crunched and destroyed at least two of his jazz records. Then Shannon went running to the kitchen to get paper towels, probably thinking this is the worst blind date on record. We got everything cleaned up and Jack was very gracious about my klutz-itis and walked me back toward the kitchen to refill my wine glass. As we’re heading there, I stopped to admire a sculpture he had displayed on a series of suspended shelves. I turned to ask him about it, and once again that damned shawl caught on a corner of the shelving, sending books, art, and glass objects crashing to the floor.
At that point, he simply smiled and scooped me up in his arms, carried me into the kitchen and deposited me on top of the counter. He braced his arms on either side of me and commanded, “Sit. Very. Still. Don’t. Move. You are possibly a lethal weapon and I’m going to have to neutralize you if I want to keep my home intact until we leave for dinner.” He hopped up on a counter across from me and we talked and laughed, and had a good old time until about an hour later when Shannon and Fernando poked their heads in the kitchen to see if we still wanted to go to dinner; we had completely forgotten about them!
Dinner passed in a blur and a blink of an eye. Jack ask me to dinner the following night, but Geoffrey Beene was taking a group of models to Philly at 4AM the next morning to tape a fashion segment for a talk show, and I knew I probably wouldn’t even be awake for dinner. On Friday I was treating myself to one very expensive ticket to Carnegie Hall to see Rod McKuen perform, so we made a dinner date for Saturday night. When we left the restaurant, he hailed a
coach cab and gave the driver $20 to take me home; Cindarella had just met a Prince. Where ever might this lead……