spotted her in the shopping center getting out of a white Mercedes convertible
SLS. She was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen. In - my - life. If
Charlize Theron were gay and married to the late Marlene Dietrich, this would
be their female child.
The woman in the parking lot had to be Austrian
or Swedish, I decided, because of her incredibly high cheekbones, Garbo-like bone
structure, perfect pink and white skin, perfect shoulder-length pure white hair
tied at the nape of her Audrey Hepburn neck, and sea-green eyes under Elizabeth
Taylor lashes. No visible makeup. I guessed her to be somewhere between 35 and
65. Truth be told, in Southern California, the first thing you look for on good
looking faces is a telltale sign of plastic surgery; there's so much reconstruction
done on faces in Hollywood, we don't bother saying "plastic surgery," we just
say "work." No work had been done on her.
She was maybe 5'8" and dressed
like one of those rich women you see in the pages of fancy magazines, the one
who's always sitting on a horse. Not a snobby dressage horse, more likely a sporty
jumper. Tan low-rise jodhpurs, blood-brown riding boots that looked to be made
of soft Italian leather that probably cost $1,000, a regal-looking black jacket
and high-necked pale blue shirt. About a Size 2, she made Betty Draper look fat
She was nobody's trophy wife, I thought, but instead had
plenty of her own money and left each of three husbands when they began to bore
her. They were all so smitten, even at the end of the marriage, that they never
asked for alimony, though she liked to leave them with a building or two and maybe
a small yacht. I decided her name would be majestic and start with an "E" as in
Elegant. It would be something like Eugenie or Elizabeth or Ernestine. Her voice
would be husky and kind of Lauren Bacall-y, with a touch of Ellen DeGeneres's
musical mischief just under the surface.
She didn't notice me and, since
we were headed to the same store, I was able to observe her walk. She strode with
confidence, verve and importance. Definitely either an Austrian or a Swede. She
was the kind of woman who'd gain immediate entry into any private club, movie
studio, or even the White House.
She stood in front of me at Starbuck's,
and I was eager to hear whether her accent would be Austrian or Swedish. I leaned
forward slightly, anxious to catch her very first words to the Starbuck's counter
girl in order to confirm my imagination's vivid conclusions. I wish I had not
It wasn't what she said: "I'll have a Skinny Vanilla Latte,"
that blew my imagination to smithereens, it was that she sounded exactly like
January 5, 2013 column
"A Balloon In Cactus" Columns