Sunday, March 08, 2009

Close encounters of the celebrity kind

I was pregnant and living in Tucson. Dave was at the base and David Scott was restless so we took a drive out to Old Tucson. I hoped walking around would tire him out so he'd go to sleep and then I could rest. Actually, just getting around the house was enough to tire me out because the baby was dropping and I felt weighted down, but I was at my wit's end. David Scott wasn't sleeping and neither was I.

It was a beautiful winter morning. The sun was bright and warm and it felt good to be out of the house where the breakfast dishes and laundry waited to be done.

We wandered down the wooden sidewalks where countless actors had walked before us while making movies. David Scott thumped down on the sidewalk and wouldn't move, so I picked him up and carried him into the general store. I wasn't watching where I was going and came to a dead stop, nearly dropping him. Suddenly, he was out of my arms and I grabbed for him, thinking he was falling. A man in cowboy clothes held him in his arms and smiled down at me. David Scott pinched the deep cleft in his chin and giggled. I was mortified as I recognized Kirk Douglas holding my son. I apologized and he smiled and laughed. "No need to apologize. He's a fine healthy boy."

"A little too healthy sometimes," I said. I reached for my son and he waved me off, holding tighter to Mr. Douglas.

"You look tired. How about some lunch?"

"I couldn't, Mr. Douglas. I-I don't want to impose."

"It's Kirk and you're not imposing."

He started out the door, bouncing David Scott in his arms and chatting with him as if my son were his own child. I followed him out the door and down the street to the edge of town, all the time asking Mr. Douglas to let me have my son. I near stumbled and fell and Mr. Douglas -- Kirk -- grabbed my arm with his free hand and guided me into a building where people and some actors I recognized stood in groups or fussed with lights and cameras while others helped themselves from a long table filled with food. Kirk told a young girl to fill two plates and guided me to the table. "Take whatever you'd like," he said as he walked over to a table where another man dressed as a cowboy held court.

I took some fruit and turned away from the table when a deep voice behind told me I needed more than that and piled some more food on the plate. "Go sit over there and I'll bring you some coffee."

"Thank you, but I don't drink coffee."

"How about a coke?" I nodded. He patted my shoulder. "Sit down before you fall down," he urged.

Kirk waved me over to a chair next to him. I placed the plate on the table and sat down. I looked up at the man next to me and he smiled a smile I've seen hundreds of times and introduced himself. I was sitting between Kirk Douglas and John Wayne having lunch while they took turns bouncing my son on their knees. They introduced me around to the other cast members and the director and some of the other staff while we ate and then invited me to stick around while they shot a few scenes. Afterwards, Kirk walked me back to my car, fastened David Scott in his car seat and helped me into the car.

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