Downer day at Beguiling Hollywood, in which we contemplate death and the passing of friends
Poppets, there are just some days of the year when I go limp. Really. I don’t move much. I’m glummer than hell, bordering on teary, and because my natural state is pathologically chipper…it always confuses me. Until I remember what day it is. It’s always a day when one of my family or friends have died. There’s something inside me that knows, even if I’m not immediately conscious of it. It hit me full force recently, so I’m re-posting this memory of a friend who died in April, ten years ago.
Have you ever noticed how I use images of movie stars to set the scene for talking about myself? Apologies, but I’m at it again. Tyrone Power died at the age of 44, I had a friend who died at roughly the same age a few years ago. I know nothing about what kind of person Tyrone Power was, but I do know a lot about my friend, and how he conjured a persona he specifically crafted for Hollywood, and how he died way too young.
To put it bluntly he could be a terrific jerk. He was calculating, climbing, callous, a consummate actor (behind the camera), power mad, and glib. He got engaged to a woman because of her industry connections. When she got wise to some of his more indiscreet behavior she announced the rupture in their relationship by decking him on set. By decking I mean she punched him in the jaw and kneed him in the groin and he hit the floor gasping for breath. He was not to be trusted. And, I trusted him.
I met him shortly after I met my husband. Perhaps, because he sensed I was spoken for, he never turned his insincere charm my way – but he did befriend me, and he confided in me. He told me stories of his adventures that half the time I didn’t believe, just outrageous things – things that young men do under the influence when they confuse inebriation with soul searching. Who knows, maybe he had insights I’ll never experience, or couldn’t handle if I did.
He was in the habit of calling me out of the blue and saying things like, “We’re going to the track – I’ll pick you up at eleven,” and then he’d hang up the phone abruptly and arrive exactly as promised. As we got older and more settled (and perhaps a bit more conventional) he’d demand we have him over for dinner, and invite some of our friends, and he would cook, and specify the wine we had to buy and the cookware and cutlery he expected to have on hand. At dinner he would hold court, and get Mr. L. liquored up to the point he had to hold onto the wall to stand up. That was when we lived under the Hollywood sign.
When Mr. L. was out of town he made a point of taking me places, dinner, wine tastings, events. He was protective of me and sweet and teasing and joking and avuncular – even though he was only a year or two older. When we ate together, no matter how large the party, he would sit by my side and I never saw him treat anyone else like this – he’d pick the most delicious things from his plate and place them on a fork or spoon and feed me.
Have I mentioned he was callous and calculating and glib? Never with me. He made me feel cherished.
As the years went on I’d notice when Mister L. and I would go out with my friend and his date, he’d model his behavior after my husband’s. I think we were his template for a happy couple, his own relationships having been high on drama, and it’s presumptuous of me to say, but maybe a little low on love.
Cutting to the chase, he got sick, and then after five years he died.
I haven’t dreamt about him in awhile. In the beginning, they were always dreams of frustration and grief and contact blocked. The kind that wake you with a jolt wondering what just happened. Then the dreams changed, and I would dream of him when some seismic shift in our lives was about to take place, and I started to refer to him as my oracle of doom. Older and older, and now, when I dream of him it’s like he’s dropped by for a visit – almost, but he never will again and I miss him.
It’s downer day at Beguiling Hollywood, let’s just go with it, and give a thought to those we have loved and lost.