Work with the triumvirate was challenging and fun. The world of meetings, meetings, meetings and deals, deals, deals was often tiring but there was often a special energy about it, and an endless fascination to the workings of the industry and the disparate characters involved. It helped that Carey, Fernell, and Grace Mark were themselves super-experienced and possessed of a delightful charge and humor.
There I would be, sitting on a meeting with one, two, or all of the three, convinced that everything had gone to hell that the various species of executives we were seated with were going to reject the deal that we had so painstakingly worked-out (just imagine the illustration of The Ascent of Man: the woman in power is Homo Sapiens Sapiens while the other execs work their way down the ladder of evolution becoming in metaphorical terms less and less human-like and possessed of less and less power) but, then, at the end one of the trinity would make the tiniest suggestion followed with a joke and – BAM! Suddenly, everything turned around. I couldn’t precisely see how Carey or Fernell or Grace Mark had performed their magic but I was in, carefully concealed, awe of it.
After the meeting, back at the agency or, more usually enjoying a celebratory lunch, they’d let me in on The Trick, which often involved some arcane industry wisdom, or else secret knowledge of a particular power-player’s psychology, a species of corporate mentalism, often accompanied by raucous jokes from Fernell, scurrilous rumors via Carey, and from Grace Mark the most hilarious and subtle barbs, delivered with a viperous seductiveness that made me feel like a lust sick, love-struck adolescent.
Depending on the occasion I would work with any combination of the Triumvirate, by myself in my office or meeting with a client, or with a single triumvir. Often Carey would bring me along to help woo some prospective client or other, Fernell would have me back him up with at meetings with various carefully managed statistics, but then there was the work I did with Grace Mark. She would come into my office and perch on the end of the desk and chat to me about letters and documents she wanted me to prepare, and as did so she’d tell me amusing stories about her ex-husband (and close friend) Garner or her present boyfriend, the nice if awesomely tedious theater impresario Martin Glass. I enjoyed listening to her, though this was rather off-set by the ever-present strange feeling and the rather less strange yet uncomfortable fact of the torch I held for her, a torch that was in danger of burning me to ashes, or so it seemed in my more fanciful moments. I was able to spar with her, something I’ve always enjoyed with women (and one of the reasons my marriage to a thoroughly pleasant woman named Kristen had ended, there was no spark between us, we liked but didn’t love each other) yet the knowingness she had, the sense she knew I had feelings for her that I’d never dare to express, made things awkward for me. And by the way she’d lean on my shoulder as I typed lowering her precise English accent to a purr while I tried desperately hard not to drink in her perfume, I saw that she was playing with me, perhaps waiting to see if I’d finally say something, anything to acknowledge the unspoken.
You may be thinking that I was ridiculously taken with her, this powerful, witty 47 year-old but, well, as much as I knew I couldn’t say anything to her, couldn’t dream of any deeper relationship, the strange feeling I’ve been talking about told me something else. It left me with the weirdest sensation, something akin to deja vu but not quite, and that sensation was that I was in love with Grace Mark, I had been before and I would be again…but not this Grace Mark. At the time it made no sense, but soon enough, it would.
So, there I was; a 30 year old, divorced ex-actor, both delighted and tortured to be working with a beautiful, witty, accomplished older woman, it was in some ways like being transported back to my teenage years, except, despite my susceptibility to her toying with me, I had developed a quick and cunning tongue that appealed to her. But, then, there was the reality of the Feeling, as if she were like some Truer Grace Mark without being her. Even more oddly I was possessed by the feeling that I was somehow not right, that there was another “David” who might have fit with her. Trust me, I know how crazed this sounds. Even as I had these thoughts I was inclined to think my awareness of my own flaws – which was considerable but manageable. I’ve always liked myself well enough, and my confidence around women was fairly high though not around those I was most deeply attracted to which may tell a different story – had suddenly become bizarrely magnified in the presence of a woman who I couldn’t help but be overwhelmingly physically attracted to, even without considering her personality, wit and charm. And then again, the Feeling was there – impossible, seemingly, but as undeniable as the Sun: a nagging unfamiliar familiarity, a familiar unfamiliarity – a sum with two different answers.
I had found myself powerfully, painfully attracted to unsuitable women before; unsuitable either because deep down I knew I didn’t like them much never mind love them, or due to their being so far beyond me in intelligence, attractiveness or just plain goodness, yet this wasn’t like that – not underneath. Although the likelihood of Grace Mark wanting any kind of sexual relationship with me, never mind a deeper one, was close to zero, the Feeling persisted that somewhere, somehow, there was a Grace Mark and a David who were right for each other, no matter that on a rational level that made as much sense to me as worshiping Cheese.
© George Kaplan for Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to George Kaplan for Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.