Sunday, September 16, 2012
Birthday Girl: Last Dame Standing
I'm posting late today - one of those days; don't ask. When I saw her picture scattered around some of my favorite destinations, I thought, oh, no - not that, too. But no, it's not - it is instead her birthday. Lauren Bacall is 88 today.
Somewhere, packed away in a box that's nailed into a crate that's been sitting for a decade and more in a storage space Somewhere on the East Coast, if I'm lucky, there's a microcassette (remember them?) that I saved out of an answering machine (remember them?) from 'round about 1989. On it, among I'm sure many utterly forgotten dates and appointments and crank calls and Lord knows what all, is the first call I ever missed from Miss Bacall. If memory serves, it was about changing the time that a car was to pick her up. I must have played that message a hundred times or more, to myself and to friends, marveling that Lauren Bacall had dialed my phone number and left a message.
I will tell you the truth: I knew her for a year or two, at the level that she would have known my name and probably thought I was a pretty good, get-things-done sort of person of the sort who are plentiful in lives like hers. And never, ever in that time, was she anything but great. A Star, absolutely, and conscious of it - but why shouldn't she be? She earned it. She did her job, and she was damn good at it, and for one reason and another - not least among them the amount it cost to live like Lauren Bacall, the Widow Bogart, Star - she did it for a very long time, possibly for a long while after she really wanted to. I was always more than a little in awe of her, in ways that I wasn't with some of the other Great Ladies I got to know in one way or another.
I'm glad she's still here, and I hope she knows that still she's on a very, very short list of the best: a real New Yawk lady, staunch in her progressive politics, loved, admired, loyal, hardworking, and, I can attest, even at 7:30 in the morning in the rain, beautiful beyond belief.
When she really does go, we shall not see her like again.