Remembering Liz Taylor

elizabeth-taylor

I just saw a blurb that Elizabeth Taylor had passed away today at the age of 79.  I had the good fortune to meet this lovely lady, although under false pretenses.  The story seems to be worth telling, particularly today.

The year was 1981, and Ms. Taylor was in New York to star in the play “The Little Foxes” for which she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress.  I had seen a small piece in one of the tabloids recounting a mix up with her limousine service which had left her stranded at the airport for hours when she arrived in town.  This bit of information turned into my “ticket to ride”.

I had agreed to accompany my friend Paul to pick up his Wife from work.  She tended bar at a restaurant that was a hangout for Broadway people.  It may still be there, but the name escapes me.  As Paul and I entered the restaurant, I spotted Elizabeth Taylor sitting in the restaurant area with Roddy McDowell.  Two gigantic guys, obviously bodyguards, were standing by her table to discourage the curious.  I told Paul that I was going to go over and say hello to Liz, as we had a lot of catching up to do.

“You know Liz Taylor?” Paul asked.

“No” I replied.  “That’s why we have a lot of catching up to do.”

“Fifty dollars says you don’t talk to her or even get near her” Paul said.  “You see those two goons?”

“I see them.  No problem.  I’ll take the bet.  I want a hundred if I’m able to join her at the table” I said.

“You’re on.  I’ll go for the C-note.  But there is no way you pull this off,” Paul said, shaking his head.

“Watch me,” I said and grinned knowingly.  Paul shook his head again.

I began my walk from the bar area where we were sipping beers around to the restaurant entrance.  Both of the bodyguards had their eyes on me long before I had even begun to approach their table, as if they had some kind of internal radar.  As I approached Liz and Roddy’s table, both bodyguards came together and blocked my passage.  A hand the size of a Virginia ham waved me away.

“They don’t want any interruptions,” one of the behemoths told me.  “You should beat it.”

“I think Ms. Taylor will want to speak with me.  I owe her an apology,” I explained.  “You want to ask her?”

“She knows you?”

“No.  She wouldn’t know me from Adam.  Never laid eyes on me” I replied.

“So why would she want to talk to you?  I’d rather you leave under your own power, pal; less of a fuss.”

“I’m the limo driver who hung her up at the airport,” I said. “I want to apologize.  Would you just ask her?”

At that point, Liz glanced up, probably to inquire as to why I was still there.  One of the bodyguards whispered something to her.  She looked up at me, smiled and waved me through to join them.

“It is wonderful of you to come and apologize in person.  With all the trouble you got in the papers, I’d have thought you‘d hate me.  The whole incident was really no big deal,” Liz said, smiling. “Please, join us for a drink.” I could not believe the color of her eyes; almost a lavender shade.  Like nothing I’d seen before; nor since.

I sat down and risked a glance up at the bar.  Paul was watching with jaws agape.  His eyes were huge!

“Ms. Taylor, I just wanted to tell you in person how very sorry I am for any inconvenience you had to go through.  No excuses, I dropped the ball,” I said.

“That’s ancient history and you’ve paid enough of a price.  The limousine company said you were fired”

“Yes, that’s true, but it really wasn’t working out” I replied.  “You weren’t my first faux pas, just my most infamous. It was time to do something else, anyway.”

She laughed.  “Well, I wish you the best of luck. And I thank you for making the effort to apologize in person.  That was very honorable and it took some guts.”

The honorable part was just plain wrong, and I’d probably have substituted balls for guts.  The waitress approached to take my drink order, and I raised my hand in dismissal.

“Ms. Taylor, I appreciate the offer but I’m going to pass on having a drink.  I came with a friend and he’s alone up at the bar.  I should join him.  Besides, he owes me $100.00. I told him I was going to go join Liz Taylor and he bet me it would not happen.  It did” I said.  “If I’m out of a job, I should go collect my money.”

“Did he know you were my limousine driver that never showed?” she asked.

“No, I was less than forthcoming in that regard” I replied.

“That was very clever and a little devious” she said, laughing. “I feel better about your losing your job after meeting you.  I think you’ll be just fine. It was a pleasure.”

“The pleasure was all mine” I said, rising to my feet.  “Have a wonderful evening.”  I left the table and began my return to the bar area, most impressed with how very warm and friendly Elizabeth Taylor had turned out to be.  And those eyes!  On the way, I decided not to tell Paul the limousine story which had made all this possible.  It was much more fun to have him wonder about it.

“How the hell did you pull that off?” Paul demanded as I approached, his brow furrowed.

“I really can’t explain it, you know?” I said.  “Sometimes people just seem to connect.”

Liz001

Photographs by Google Images

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4 Comments on “Remembering Liz Taylor”

  1. Eliza Sonneland Says:

    What a great story!!!
    Earlier in the evening, on my way to bridge, my partner and I were reminiscing about ET. He told me of the time his mother was flying back to the US on the Concorde and saw ET sitting alone. She said to her husband “I’m going to see if she’d like to play some gin rummy.” Long story, short…they ended up playing for the entire flight!

  2. nino tucci Says:

    Juddy, you’re a gifted and natural writer. Also a rascal :) Wonderful story!

  3. Sean Brennan Says:

    Bill,
    What a funny story. All the times Sue, you and me talked at Giorgio’s all of the amazing stories you both shared and you never thought to tell the gay guy this story. What on earth were you thinking. I LOVE it!

  4. Annie Says:

    I love this!! Only you….you have definitely a gift. I could read your blogs all day! More please!


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