So I am standing outside of RJ Julia booksellers in Madison Connecticut. It’s pouring rain and I am leaning up against a wall under an overhang at the far end of the building. I drove out there to see an art exhibit by Olivia De Berardinis. I have admired her work for a long time and was hoping to pick up an original piece. While I was waiting for the gallery to open I figured I would kill some time walking around the book store across the street.
It started raining and I made my way under a covered walkway to have a cigarette. It looked like there was a crowd forming inside the store and around its front doors. A man in a white shirt with a Julia logo on it came out and told everyone to come inside and sit down. That they would begin shortly. With that everyone went inside. The man came over to me and told me that if I was there to see Anne Heche I would have to come inside. I told him I wasn’t, that I was just waiting for the art exhibit to open.
A couple of moments later a white limo pulls up along the curb beside the building. A man, maybe a few years younger than me, steps out of the back seat. He is dressed in a black suit, no tie, and no socks. He puts a cigarette out on the curb and adjusts the button on his jacket. He leans into the open door and with a deep, controlling voice says. “You need to get your crap together. Wipe your face off and get inside, we have people waiting”. and with that, he turned around walked up to the store front. As he passed me the smell of his cologne was so strong I am sure I smelled of him for the rest of the day.
A minute later I see this blonde woman step out of the car. She was wearing a short white mini dress with a long wool coat and black high heal boots. Her face was flustered and I could tell that she had been crying. She stood there for a moment as she opened up an umbrella and looked around. Her eyes caught mine for just a second. She closed the door and walked up onto the sidewalk and right over to where I was standing.
“You wouldn’t have a cigarette I could get from you would you”? she asked me. So I pulled one from my pack and handed it to her. I reached into my pocket and retrieved my lighter as well. I lit her cigarette for her and then lit another one for me. She asked me if I was there to see her speak and I said no, that I was there to see some artwork. She was familiar with Olivia’s work and we started talking about pieces we liked of Ms.De Berardinis as well as other favorite artist of ours like Frazetta and Dudina. It was a very brief conversation. But standing there on that empty street with the rain coming down, everything seemed kind of peaceful and serene.
Then the angry man in the suit came back out and not looking happy at all. He pointed his finger at her and said “You! Inside now! People are waiting for you”. Then he looked at me with a snear of disgust, and without taking his eyes off of me said to her, “What are you gonna do, screw this guy too”. I just had to let out a little chuckle. He was so mad. So without a word she dropped the cigarette on the ground and push it into the cement with her boot. Then she looked at me and said she was sorry and went inside.
When she was no longer in sight the guy turned back to me and said, “Look, you need to leave her alone. You could never stand a chance with someone like her. And don’t give her anymore cigarettes, she’s trying to quit”. and then he walked away. The sound of his shoes tapping heavy on the hard floor echoed down the walkway.
I finished my cigarette and went inside to purchase a book I had seen earlier. The actress was standing behind a podium and speaking to a crowd of people. She had written a memoir and was reading passages from its pages. I stood there for a moment to listen. She spoke about her controlling relationship with Ellen DeGeneres and the troubled connection she had to her father. Then she turned her focus onto this guy who so rudely had words with me outside and told the people how she had finally found happiness. She told tales of love and trust and unconditional respect. On that note I paid for my novel and left.
On my way down the road to the gallery I had to ponder a bit on what had just happened. The complications of relationships and the lies we tell ourselves in order to numb ourselves from the truth. This guy was, well for lack of a better word, a total douche. He smoked in the limo around a woman who was trying to quit. He accused her of infidelities right in from of a total stranger. He was so insecure and shallow that he accused me of ulterior motives. She must have been a wreck of a woman to breathe the same air as this man let alone allow him treat her that way.
I guess that money and fame and beauty really doesn’t have anything to do with happiness. She had it all, and was still stuck in that car in tears. I had no money, no fame, and cursed with over sized ears and paper-thin hair. But I was about to enjoy my morning sipping cheap wine from a plastic coffee cup and looking at some incredible art. Then go home to my beautiful wife and four children. Life can be pretty great, even without the money, the fame, or the looks. Having it all simply means being happy with who you are I suppose.