Sunday, March 29, 2009

Meme of Fame (first installment)

A Typical Day in My Glamorous Past

Several months ago Bruno tagged me with the 7 Random (or Unremarkable) Things About Me meme. Yes, several months ago. I'm a master of procrastination. Having done that meme a few times already, my cache of about-me things was spent. You already know, for God's sake, the distance from the top of my wrist to the base of my forefinger. You know about my lackluster childhood in the circus. You know my shoe size. What else could you possibly want to know? So I thought, hey, I’ll do what Moody did a while back. I’ll turn it into the 7 Famous People Who Almost Knew Me meme. After all, I've been within spitting distance of Robin Williams. (No, I didn't spit on him.) I've urinated in a public restroom in Berkeley in the stall next door to a National Book Award-winning poet. (Her urine did have a bouncy anapestic rhythm as it hit the water.) A highly respected actress known for her eclectic supporting roles has sat beside me, and we've chatted amiably--in a punk club in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. No less than Gene Hackman, I kid you not, has parked in my loading zone, right here in Santa Fe. Twice.

But did I follow through with my intention to post the Meme of Fame? Hell no. Too busy hanging with luminaries. Oh, and did I mention I procrastinate? Then too, there's the narrowing factor. Too many lucky famous have crossed my path. Whom will I omit? Whose feelings will I hurt? But now Paschal has had the same idea. And he's tagged anyone reading his Seven. How can I not follow through now?

I will do my damndest to pick and choose seven of the most fortunate individuals of fame who came that close to knowing me.

1. Summer, 1986. I'm minding our gallery on Union Street in San Francisco, six months pregnant with my firstborn. An attractive middle-aged woman, elegantly dressed in a tailored suit adorned with a sparkly brooch, comes in. We strike up a conversation. She asks me about my due date and tells me about her own "babies," who are big kids now. She then takes interest in an oil painting of a pink bathrobe on a clothes hanger. "I really love it," she says. "I'll admit I have something of an aversion to the associations I have with the color pink."

"You must mean...the wimp factor?"

"Exactly. But something about this painting appeals to me. A lot. I'll be back with my husband. He's a television actor and is in a meeting right now."

"Oh, have I seen the show?" At the time I really did not watch TV. I didn't know what else to say.

"Probably," she said. I was so out of the popular culture loop, I didn't even recognize the words spelled by the configuration of stones in her brooch. HILL STREET BLUES. (If you're old enough to remember that show, you know it was a hugely popular police drama and was produced and written by Steven Bochco, who has subsequently produced a string of quality hits such as L.A. Law and NYPD Blue.)

Hill Street Blues cast, circa 1985

That afternoon the woman did return with her husband, James B. Sikking. (When I began watching Hill Street Blues shortly thereafter, I realized Jim played the commander of the SWAT team.) After several minutes of his interrogating me about the artist, he agreed that, yes, the painting was worthy of being purchased. As I was writing up the sale, Bennie showed up, did a double-take at the tall gentleman standing beside the desk, and said, "Oh, I know you, don't I? You're on Hill Street Blues, aren't you?"

The Sikkings became wonderful clients of the gallery. That same day they purchased a small surrealist etching by a German printmaker. The etching was called "Schwanz Pot" and depicted, yes, an intriguing penis-plant growing in a flowerpot. This was a gift for Mr. Bochco. "That is SO him," Florine said. (Another time Florine and Jim honored us by coming to our gallery on their anniversary and purchasing a realist painting as their gift to each other. How is that for sweet?)

Several months later I was home with my new baby Flannery. My parents were visiting. Bennie called from the gallery to say "a few Hollywood people" were, as of that moment, riding in a cab to the studio of an artist we represented. Since we lived near Bill, the artist in question, he suggested I meet them there--after all, my mom and dad could babysit. Correction. He had already informed the Hollywood people I would meet them there.

I began to panic. Not a thing to wear. I was getting my body back into shape and nothing fit. My maternity clothes now swallowed me whole, but I was way too fat for my pre-preggers skinny jeans. When I did pull together an outfit that was vaguely passable--cotton knit pants with a coral top and a sage-colored cotton sweater to wrap around my various lumps, the only pair of shoes that would go with it were these jobs I'd grabbed from the sales rack at Mervyns. Brown sandals with, God forbid, synthetic wedge soles. And talk about a horrific hair day!

Clipping my frumpy, growing-out-perm into a sad clump on the back of my head, I climbed into our VW Golf and raced to Bill's studio. Jim and Florine had arrived and they'd brought Bruce Weitz and his girlfriend Valerie. (At least I think that was her name.) By now I was a fan of the show and so I recognized Bruce right off. He looked much more elegant in person, without that most unflattering knit cap. Everyone looked casually elegant. Even Bill had gotten cleaned up. I was the odd one out, me and my marked-down footwear.

Bill began trotting out his paintings. Everyone oohed. Everyone aahed. Milk began leaking from my nursing breasts. I pulled my sweater as completely around my post-partum body as was feasible. Bill trotted out more paintings. At one point a huge dog ran into the studio, pursued by the tenant from downstairs, Kathy. "Bad dog, Bubbles! BAD dog!" Jesus Christ, was Bubbles sporting a kerchief around his affected neck? I'd never seen Bubbles in such a get-up. I'd never seen Bubbles come bounding into Bill's studio for that matter. What a transparent ploy on Kathy's part to get a glimpse of the Hollywood people. How embarrassing.

Suddenly Jim focused on a charcoal study of a piano that rested on the floor near my feet. "Tell me about this," he said. For one godawful moment, I thought he was asking about my brown sandals.

"Well," Bill said, "That's a study for an oil I'm getting ready to paint."

"I like it," Jim said. "Do you like it, Florine?"

Florine liked it.

So it was agreed that when Bill completed the oil painting, the Sikkings would buy it. We talked about palette. Jim is partially colorblind, so we wanted colors he could perceive. Lots of Matisse, Nice-period blue. We talked about dimensions. We talked about price. We came to terms. Jim and Florine would now return to the gallery and put down their deposit. Bruce and his woman would tag along.

Done deal.

"San, could we get a ride back to the gallery with you?" By now the milk was ready to splash onto my brown sandals.

"Sure," I said, then added casually, "Of course I'm in a Volkswagen Golf. It'll be a little crowded."

"Great! We can sit in one another's laps."

F'in' great. When would this sad ordeal end? I pictured my desperate folks at home, wearing a groove in the parquet floor of our bungalow on 30th Avenue as they walked in circles, passing a starved, red-faced, screaming Flannery back and forth. The milk spurted.

As we walked to the VW, Florine was chatting with Valerie. "When I came into that gallery last summer, she was pregnant and she was just radiant!"

Wow, I thought, what she means is, "What in the hell has happened to her now?" (Now that I'm older than Florine was then, I realize she was empathetic to my situation and was wanting to make me feel better. She'd been there. She knew. She is a genuinely kind woman.)

Everyone packed themselves into my little car and I headed down 19th Avenue, through Golden Gate Park, through the Presidio, and towards the Marina. Coming off the Marina Boulevard ramp, I had a little trouble merging in the mid-day traffic and got honked at by an irate motorist. Well, several irate motorists. I couldn't help myself. I uttered the s-word. I was chagrined to have done so. My passengers remained unperturbed. Then again, they were used to L.A. motorists. They were used to Hollywood directors.

When we arrived at the gallery, I'll admit, despite myself, I felt a measure of pride walking in with the Hollywood people. A little crowd gathered on the sidewalk in front, murmuring "That's him, isn't it?"

And, "Look. That's him too!"

And, "But who in the hell is that one in the bad sandals?"

Just kidding.

(OK, I've written this much already and I'm still on my first Famous Person Who Almost Knew Me. Whatta ya say I make this a series? More to come...six more...at least...I'll get around to it...)

Right.

117 comments:

SandyCarlson said...

Oh, I enjoyed that. I love that poetic potty moment, too!

Celebration of Life said...

San, This is very funny! Thanks for the laughs and giggles!
Jo

Lori Skoog said...

San....you are too much. In 1979 the International Special Olympics was held in Brockport and I worked with the celebrities as they played on various teams.
Got to spend some time around the Kennedys, Shrivers, Susan St. James, Muhammed Ali, Phil Donahue, Christopher Reeves and many more. The only one we really got to talk to was Hank Aaron and he was a real gentleman. I do have a couple of celebrity family members...the late John Belushi and his brother Jim. Their Mom was my Godmother. There is something about our culture that places celebrities on a pretty high pedestal....and they are really just people.

Lee said...

LOL I used to watch that show as religiously as any other fan, San! Great story! Love the picture of you! Hope you don't wince when I say it gave me visions of Mona Lisa and the Madonna smiles. Wow!

Hugs!
Lee

Kim said...

ROFL...you do tell a good story! I think you dealt with these life situations very well and with good humor. Write on...I'm listening! :)

jsd said...

ah thank you for sharing...I've only ever met one famous person sort of...it was at a new wave concert at Pine Knob in MI - Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins...he did loose his pony tail that evening to a pair of scissors but it wasn't me.

The other was from an indie movie about univerisity students who also happen to be out trangendered people. And as it would happen one of the universities was MSU. So as I was heading back from VT to TX through MI as I'm racing to catch my connecting flight - there's one of the transgendered univierisity students. I almost stopped, I mean what could I have said, "I thought you were still in Armenia?" - to get that you'll have to try to find the movie -- it is on netflix though.

~Babs said...

Love the photo,,and the telling of the tale. You always put us right there with you,,,even inside the stall.
I'm pretty sure I felt the milk too.

Maggie May said...

Oh....... I wanted to know what happened to your screaming baby!
A good writer always keeps their readers guessing!

Shrinky said...

What a wonderful tale, told in only the way you can! Every mother reading this knows these self-conscious moments precisely.. oh, the horrors we put ourselves through! But how exciting to be spotted rubbing shoulders with the glam set - especially when they turn out to be such genuinely nice people.

I can't wait for the next installment.

Andy said...

Clearly, I was attracted to this page by the references to one the greatest television program of all time.

However on reading the whole thing I was struck by your descriptive writing that let me feel like I had been there, watching those amusing events. I look forward to more of your adventures

Lastly Hill Street Blues fans reading this, may be interested to know there is an active fans website and Egroup, at http://www.hillstreetblues.tv

Regards Andy

Angelynn said...

interesting blog...and much more fun then just making a list.I pictured the scene perfectly...as a mother of five definitely related to the postpartum, nothing to wear, frumpy feeling. I look forward to your next brush with fame.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I doubt they paid any attention to your sandals (though you never know). Having been fortunate enough to work with musicians of a variety of levels (either on or off stage), I've noticed that the really good ones, the ones that really are world class, are quite often the most human and likable once you manage to get past that "just another one of the screaming masses" stage. The worst attitudes I've encountered tended to be among the wanna-be's, the ones that thought they should be famous but weren't, mainly because they're the most determined to defend their delusion.

Yes, there are plenty of exceptions, but those are the tendencies that I've seen so far.

Yes, I remember Hill Street Blues very well! What an experience you had!

lime said...

ok, the line about the poet in the toilet was FABULOUS. i shall now be compelled to listen for poetic pee in public potties henecforth.

as for the post-partum cup which runneth over oh honey, i know that feeling all too well.

Meg Wolff said...

San,
When I first saw the photo of you, I though, who are those little children? You have not changed a bit!

Funny story and I look forward to reading MORE, brown sandals and ALL, I bet they LOVED you.

RiverPoet said...

San, I'm so glad to have had a few minutes to read this today!

Wonderful writing and imagery. You paint with more than acrylics and oils, my friend. Thanks for sharing this story with us. Be sure to complete those other 6. Never underestimate the power of a meme to give you some blog fodder for a good long time.

Peace - D

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Great blast from the past! I was painfully laughing...real life can be wonderful and painful at the same time!

Daryl said...

Oh fun .. I hope Flannery got fed

The Gossamer Woman said...

That was great fun. I smiled all the way through. I hope your poor son managed okay without you.

San said...

Sandy, you would connect with the potty moment, wouldn't you. As a poet I mean. :-D

San said...

Jo, I'm glad you enjoyed it. The recollection was a lot of fun for me.

San said...

Lori, thanks for sharing your experience.

I'm a Belushi fan. Their mom was your godmother. How cool is that!

San said...

What, me wince, Lee? I adore the comparisons you've made. You've made my day, milady.

HUGS.

San said...

Kim, more will follow. I do want to keep you ROFL.

San said...

JS, Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins fame--I'm jealous. That reminds me--a friend of mine once got on a ski lift with Huey Lewis of HL & the News. She couldn't decide if it was actually him or an impostor who bore a strong resemblance and told people he was HL.

Thanks for the heads-up on the netflix. One for the queue.

San said...

Babs, all of us who've had that milk experience probably feel it again when reading about others' experience. Glad you liked the tale.

San said...

Maggie May, as a mom, you would wonder about that, wouldn't you. Flan was fed as soon as I returned home, which wasn't that much later. And she survived with very little psychological trauma.

San said...

Shrinky, I knew you would relate to the situation. Yes, they were extremely kind people, modest and down-to-earth. A complete pleasure to do business with.

San said...

Andy, thanks much for the visit and for your kind words. I will check out the fan site for sure.

San said...

Angelynn--a mother of five? WOW. Your profile pic looks so merry and relaxed. Thank you for visiting. I look forward to your return.

San said...

Moody, your wisdom as to musicians seems to hold true for visual artists too. With an exception here and there of course. But yes, those who are confident of their powers and who have enjoyed a measure of success tend to be much more relaxed and modest.

San said...

Lime, let me know how your potty investigations go. You are so attuned to the quirky, your results will no doubt be impressive.

San said...

Meg, you have flattered me enormously. Thank you for that. I'm glad my profile pic was taken on a feeling thin/decent hair day in 2006, not to mention from a fair distance.

San said...

I know what you mean, Doris. Memes can be very inspiring. Yes, I'm glad you had a few minutes to plow through this one.

San said...

Mary Ann, "painfully laughing"--that's a nice turn of phrase. No pain. No wonder. (I guess.)

San said...

Daryl, yes, Flannery got fed. Bill made the painting. It was stunning. A happy ending was enjoyed by all.

San said...

Gossamer Woman, thank you for visiting. Actually, Flannery is my daughter. My son is Oakley. Both names are gender-ambiguous, and yes, that has created a bit of confusion in doctors' and dentists' offices through the years. Also, our last name sounds like a first name, and the children's first names sound like last names. What a mess.

Sparkling Red said...

I feel your pain at being the worst-dressed person in the room. What a nightmare! I can't relate to the leaking breast-milk, but I imagine that just made everything around 10 x worse.

Akelamalu said...

It's sod's law isn't it, you're never dressed to kill when it matters! :(

Yes please, do make this a series, it's interesting and oh so funny! :)

San said...

Spark, the experience was mixed. In retrospect, I realize I was needlessly stressed about non-essentials. The old 20/20 hindsight thing. Despite the stress, I remember the day fondly.

San said...

Akelamalu, I believe it is a law at that. Clearly you've been there, babe.

Bruno LoGreco said...

I have to come back during the day. I see letters every where and non of them are coming together. Although I did watch Hill Street Blues too..

skywind said...

Oh, a large number of celebrities, I love it.
Health information
Humor & Fun World

Carol said...

Well, that was fun!

You are a master storyteller. (I swear I could feel the sensation of milk letting down - a feeling I'll never forget.)

Thanks for sharing your fun brush with fame.

whimsical brainpan said...

Neat! Funny too. :-)

Raven said...

What fun. Am I shallow because I think it's wonderfully cool that you knew these people and hung out with them and sold them paintings?

My celeb experiences are at the other end of the spectrum. I once rode in an elevator with Troy Donahue. I was being very shy and trying not to be a celebrity bore. He was very kind. He complimented my poncho. I always thought that was very generous of him. Oh. And I saw Sulu (George Takai?) once coming out of a restaurant. I'm rambling. I love your stories. They are always interesting and you tell them so well.

Flannery said...

Wow, I had forgotten that you drove the "hollywood" people around in the VW. Funny stuff. Do you know if Sikking has done anything since then?

SandyCarlson said...

Hey, I didn't know Hill Street Blues was off the air! How's that for out of it?

A.Bananna said...

HAHA! you made my evening! Thank you!

Leaking breast milk is the worst! I actually made my husband take his shirt off and put his sweatshirt on one time. I think it was about 100 degrees out.

Have a great week!!!

San said...

Bruno, when you do come back, proceed with caution.

:-D

San said...

Hi Sky.

San said...

Carol, I'd not thought about that term for a while--"letting down." It's perfectly descriptive.

San said...

Thanks, Whim. Good to see you.

San said...

Raven, I wish you'd post about your elevator experience with Mr. Donahue. I am shallow enough to find that totally cool.

San said...

Flan, he actually got another TV series after HST finally closed. And he played the villain in a movie called "Narrow Margin," starring Gene Hackman. They told us about that and we watched with excitement--he was excellent! And there have been other movie roles, other tv appearances. And now his son Andrew is an actor.

San said...

Sandy, you may have been confusing the name with NYPD Blue, which was on fairly recently. If not, you're as out of it as I am sometimes.

San said...

Wow, Anna, you DO know what we're talking about.

Hope your week with the family is good. Love that new profile image.

katie jane said...

San, you are SUCH a good writer! Your stories are always so entertaining and fun. I chuckled all the way through this. DO make this a series. I want to know more.

b2 said...

Love this story, San! Love you!

Jameil said...

lol. that was fun! great story telling. can't wait for the rest.

JafaBrit's Art said...

LOL, what a GREAT story. I am afraid I can't impress anybody by telling them I once helped Bernard Breslaw (who the heck is he eh!) find his hat in the movie theatre (I was an usherette with a flashlight). Hey wait I did meet Mohammed Ali who stroked my daughters hair and told me she was beautiful :) That ya go.

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

Thank you San for wandering over from Artist Unplugged. She's something else and I can see that you are as well!! I'm now following :)
You are hilarious and so talented that I almost hate you......almost, lol.
Thanks for the laughs and I loved, loved, loved me some Hill Street Blues.
Please have a weekend filled with love, joy and laughter and.....

Steady On
Reggie Girl

CoyoteFe said...

I just love this! Whilst reading I HOPED it would become a series. You are engaging! More please! Pretty please?

david mcmahon said...

Standing ovation, San!!

murat11 said...

I've been meaning to get to this for some time. You've certainly piqued my curiosity about the 6 others who almost knew you, though I'd say lactose floods in the Golf qualify as more than almost. And, of course, I've got to get the chisme on the bouncy anapest...

Elis Cooke said...

great story! I had forgotten about leaking and how ackward that could be when one was out and about-- thanks for the laugh!

C.M. Jackson said...

great story--I finally got to Santa Fe in 2000 and haven't missed a visit since. Our last visit we found a wonderful italian restaurant-http://osteriadassisi.net/

Shirley MacLaine walked in each time we were there. Magical place with and without the famous..looking forward to our next visit

best
c

Moannie said...

Very funny. Thanks to David for pointing us in your direction. Can't wait for the next Meme of Fame.

Cath said...

Wow how did I miss this? Thank goodness for David picking your post for POTD! You right so well San I am rivetted.

Please don't make me wait too long for the next installment! And I want to know -
- did Flannery starve to death that day? (Well not to death I know she is very much alive) and
- did any of them notice your milk spurting all over? I have been there and done that but NOT in front of a bunch of Hollywood people! Well done you for keeping it pulled together!

Cath said...

I mean you WRITE so well ...

Grrr. And I am an English grad! Brain and fingers not connected...

Sniffles and Smiles said...

You are a gifted story-teller!!! A pleasure to read! Congrats on your mention in POTD!

Lynette said...

San, I enjoyed reading this and I'm looking forward to the next next Meme of Fame now. Ha, procrastination is something I'm guilty of too.

San said...

Kate, thanks much. For the mental image of you chuckling your way through the post.

San said...

b2, I love you too!

San said...

Jameil, great to see you around these parts!

San said...

Jafa, it looks like you have plenty of material for your own meme of fame. More please.

San said...

You midlife, menopausal, almost-hating-me thing, you--you've made my day!!!

San said...

Oh Fe, how can I refuse YOU? Shucks.

San said...

David, thanks, man.

San said...

Paschal, you're right at that--the lactose floods do qualify for a little better than "almost." Just not in the way I'd hope.

I'll give you a hint regarding the bathroom poet: She won the Yale Younger Poets' Prize while still an undergraduate.

San said...

Elis, thanks for the visit. Please come again.

San said...

C.M., I've eaten there too. But Shirley MacLaine wasn't to be seen.

I hope you'll come back. To Santa Fe and to this blog.

San said...

Moannie, thank you for wandering over from David's. Hope to see you again...

San said...

Cath, Flanny came out of it all relatively unscathed.

I don't know if the others noticed the leakage. Then again, they're actors by trade. They have a talent for pretending.

San said...

Cath, write you are. I mean: right you are. :-D

San said...

Sniffles and Smiles, I'm honored by your visit. Please return.

San said...

Lynette, it must be a trait shared by the great ones. :-D

Sally said...

very funny, thanks for sharing!

Anna said...

Oh San you are such a treasure box! This is so cool. BTW talking about 'I'm a master of procrastination' - I think with my list I will be bloggin for life, and I think few gave up giving them out to me, lol.....Oh my this is excellent post, excellent. Anna :)

murat11 said...

San: Had to dig for that for the chishing (Armenian slang for peeing) anapest: Adrienne Rich she be. Radcliffe junior when the Yale Youngers ponied up...

Artist Unplugged said...

Very interesting! Good writing....thanks for stopping by my site recently!

San said...

Sally, thanks for stopping by again.

San said...

Anna, you have an excuse to procrastinate right now. And a beautiful excuse at that. Matthew over meming any day. No competition.

San said...

Paschal, you're a first-rate investigator. I knew you'd solve the mystery.

San said...

Unplugged, I'm glad you stopped by. Please visit again. And again.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Magnificent memoir, San!!!!!!!!

Please continue!

sukipoet said...

what an exciting life you led and lead.

CHEWY said...

(clapping hands) Stars fell right into your gallery. - I'm anxious to hear more stories starring San. (smile)

Dave King said...

The number of comments say it all. I can't wait for the next instalment!

Cath said...

Hi San - hope you are having a great weekend. Just popped over to let you know - I am realising that my blog does not update or let you know on google reader when I have posted. So pop by from time to time. I have posted, it just doesn't show.

Kim said...

Girl, you are one amazing story teller! My husband watched that show faithfully...although I did not (that same summer, my first born was also born). Oh the story of the overflowing breasts is so familiar. Argh! While I would do it all over again in a heartbeat...I am glad I do not need to do so. :)

Now you have me waiting for the next installment. I love this idea of taking a challenge like this and tweaking it...then stretching it out to last for a lot of posts!

Thanks for the treat(s)!

Have a Great Day!

Angel... said...

I love that picture of you.. and its really a great story.. thanks for sharing Hon..

david mcmahon said...

Hope all four of you had a great Easter, San.

Lori Skoog said...

San...ok, it has really been a long time since we have been able to enjoy one of your posts. Hope all is well.

San said...

Wow, Nick, I appreciate your enthusiasm. Thank you!

San said...

Suki, the "excitement" quotient of my life--that all depends on your definition of "excitement." Besides, I would take peace of mind over excitement any day.

San said...

Dar, wait until you hear about the "star" with buyer's remorse. A less happy tale.

San said...

Dave, you are too kind.

San said...

Cath, sometimes the Blogger software is a pain. Thank you for letting me know about this glitch.

San said...

Kim, I've been so busy with other things I haven't written another installment. Yet. But I'm feeling the urge...

San said...

Oh, Angel, I'm so happy to see your pretty face here. Thank you for visiting.

San said...

David, the kids had their own things to do this Easter. But Bennie and I had a nice low-key day off. Saw a movie matinee and relaxed.

San said...

Lori, it HAS been a long time. Thank you for checking in. It means a lot to me.

aims said...

Oh San! You had me laughing!

Hate those kind of days! (and I've never been pregnant so what is my excuse?)

San said...

Aims, preggers or no, we have those days. And I guess all we can do is laugh!

Sarah Lulu said...

Oh dear I enjoyed that story ...I'm very old enough to remember the show AND I've nursed three children ...

I'll be back ..thank you for the laughs and smiles.

indicaspecies said...

Okay, now for part 2 of this series.:D

Cath said...

Of course - I remember reading this now. Looking forward to the other parts...