Sunday, June 3, 2012

Adventures at Finch - Skating

We’d been ice-skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park. I wasn’t very good at it, weak ankles, but it was fun trying to sail around in the cold crisp air. Liz and I were walking back to our dorm at Finch College on 77th between Park and Madison, wrapped in hats, mittens and scarves.  Liz had her skates slung over her shoulders.  We were almost at 77th St when we saw a very pretty, petite woman walking our way.

“Oh my God, that’s Julie Christie!”

“NO! I can’t believe it!  Let’s talk to her!”  Excitedly Liz and I skipped alongside. 

“Hi Miss CHRISTIE!!! We’re such big fans!” we gushed.

She smiled saying, “Why thank you very much. And where are you off to?

“We’re headed to our dorm, we're in college.” and pointed to Chalk House as we rounded the corner.

“And I am going here,” she announced as she headed for the canopy of the apartment building caddy-corner to ours. The front of the building was lined with limos and very well-dressed folks were getting out of those limos in jewels and furs.

“What’s going on?” Liz asked 

“A fundraiser. For the next President of the United States!” was Julie Christie’s pronouncement.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“George McGovern of course!” and she steered toward the door and away from us.

We were completely star struck. We could hardly think of one movie Julie Christie had ever been in!  Giggling at our good fortune, we waved goodbye and ran into our dorm to tell everyone. Wow. Julie Christie on our block.  
Julie Christie across the street.  

“We have to crash that party,” Liz said with determination.

“Are you kidding?”  I couldn’t believe she even thought that was possible. "There’s a doorman. We don’t have an invitation.”

“We’d have to get dressed, REALLY dressed,” she said ignoring me as she opened her closet door and began searching through her clothes and pulling out her dressiest dresses.

“GEEZ, you’re serious!”

“Yes I am.  Now stop sitting around.  Go get changed.”

I was not believing she meant it. I mean we didn’t even know which apartment!  

I had this chocolate brown midi-dress (which I loved) with a Mandarin collar and a gold and red embroidered dragon on the fitted bodice, with long sleeves and a full skirted bottom that twirled when I spun around.  With heeled boots it was the classiest thing I owned.

“You need jewelry,” Liz directed, “lots of gold jewelry. Borrow some.”

So I went next door where Julie, Peggy and Kathi dumped out their jewelry boxes and plied me with wide hoop earrings, gold cuff bracelets, and chunky rings.

As people gathered in my room watching us put on make-up, someone threw me their long brown suede shearling coat.  In 20 minutes we were ready. I looked the part and Liz did too.

We headed back down, out the front door, across the street. The reason we kept going was that everyone was at their windows watching us. No one believed we could do it.  Not even me.  The first hurdle was to get into the building.

The doorman opened the door.

“The McGovern party?” I said in a questioning voice.

“Eleventh floor." and he waved us toward the elevator. We got in. 

When the elevator door shut we whispered in disbelief, "I cannot believe we got in this building!!!"  and we were laughing when suddenly the elevator doors opened and we were IN the apartment.  No hallway, just in the apartment where someone was waiting to take our coats and hang them onto an already-full garment rack that had been placed just inside the door.  We quickly sobered up. A waiter soon offered us glasses of champagne which we took and sipped, as we slid into the main room. We were trying to lose ourselves in the crowd.  We edged further into the room by a railing, looked down into the sunken living room scouting out the room — looking for Julie Christie. There she was, in the middle, surrounded by people. 

“We have to go and talk to her." 
Liz was firm.  "We have to." 

So we slowly inched our way toward the knot of people clustered around her waiting for our break.  "Hello, Miss Christie
 — remember us?” 

We tried to stay totally calm. 

“Well that was certainly a quick change,” as she recognized us from the street.

“We crashed the party!”  We were trying to chat with her easily when 
I burst out, “God! Is that Maximillian Schell over there?”  (So much for easily.) 

“Yes it is,” she smiled.

I was trying hard to say something meaningful. “I LOVED Fahrenheit 451!  What was it like making that movie?”

“Well, you know it was Oskar’s [Werner] first English film. 
(No, we didn't know.) So it was a bit difficult for him.” 

We couldn't believe she was talking to us and telling us this stuff!  We couldn’t believe our good fortune. It was beyond belief.  Then we noticed someone with a camera snapping our picture with her and then whispering to someone, who then turned to whisper to someone else.

 — we gotta go — someone’s gonna figure out we don’t belong,” we stuttered. 

As we turned to go, she quickly said, “Now I can’t vote here, because I’m not a citizen
 — but you can.” 

“Oh, we will!” we called back, as we headed for the elevator to find our coats and escape out of there.

“No one will believe us. No one." Liz said as we scrambled into our coats.  "How can we prove we were really here?”

Quite fortuitously, a waiter walked by with a tray of empty glasses, headed for the kitchen.  
“Let’s each take a wine glass!” and so we did.  We each took an empty wine glass as the waiter walked by and after he turned down a hallway, we shoved them in the deep pockets of my borrowed winter coat, took the elevator down to the lobby and went back into the cold, crisp night. 

We were both pretty silent as we crossed the street and headed up to our rooms. People had been waiting at their windows — on watch to see when we would emerge from that building (after having hidden in the lobby or been kicked out by the doorman). We drifted upstairs as if we were skating on ice. Quickly people were surrounding us, trailing behind to hear what happened, now a small crowd. 

“WHAT HAPPENED??!!” everyone asked.

“We talked to JULIE CHRISTIE!” we said in unison.

“You DIDN’T!!” people yelled.

We did,” we said smilingly
 — as we each reached into the pockets, held up the wine glasses and watched their faces drop.


  1. Yes, I remember when you saw Julie C. You couldn't get over what a small person she was. We had so much fun at that time in college.

    1. Liz reminds me that Warren Beatty was there sitting alone in a could I forget that??!!

  2. And now you have your own sweet Julie, on her own way to becoming a star! What fun! And such a shame that McGovern did not win, sparing us the Nixon tapes and more years of the Vietnam War!

    I understand the thrill of being with a celebrity, even briefly--I got to sit on Roy Rogers' horse Trigger, and meet Andy Griffith backstage at "Destry Rides AGain" and host Margaret Mead and John Denver in Dallas--and then hang with Jon Stewart backstage after "The Daily Show" last fall. What is it about these brushes with celebrity that are so exciting? (Did you sing "Lara's Theme" the rest of the evening??)

    1. WOW now there's a celebrity list! I don't know why we want our brush with the famous, but I find myself planning to write about more of those encounters!

  3. So fun to imagine something you want - way beyond your normal view, and then go for it!! Such magic in that energy. Wouldn't it be wonderful to live like that everyday, or every week, or at least every month!! That is what I am striving for - to be more alive! Thanks for sharing such a great fun fun story. Felt like I was there with you.

    1. Thank you so much Teri! Yes, it would be wonderful to have that magic in our lives...and you are not just striving for it in your life, you're achieving it!