It happened one day. I met Claudette Colbert, and I knew she was instantly attracted to me. She was in her early eighties and I had turned thirty-one. She was definitely “Hollywood” in her mink coat and was staying at the famous Watergate in Washington D.C. while attending Whitehouse functions with her friends President Reagan and his wife Nancy.
The Watergate had a wine shop and I happened to be in the account while working for a Liquor and Wine distributor. It was cold that winter, and her mink was hard not to notice. Reagan brought a lot of that Hollywood glamor with him to D.C. and it was needed after the hick from Georgia gave the Nation Billy Beer and a brother who would take a piss in public whenever he felt like it.
Claudette was short, about five feet, four inches, and her head was eye level with my chest. I couldn’t think of her name at first but knew I had seen her in movies.
She walked over to me and with her hand touching my forearm said; “I haven’t seen such a twinkle in a man’s eyes since the first time I met Clark Gable.”
“Miss Colbert, that twinkle is only radiating because I am looking at you,” I said with true sincerity.
Through her smile and intense peering into my eyes, she asked my name and a question I didn’t expect; “Your hazel eyes have a wonderful, soulful quality. Have you ever done any acting?”
“I once had a bit part in a high school production of “The Mouse that Roared” but most of us were failing French class so the production never happened.”
Then with a grand gesture, raising my arm and moving it from left to right in a sweeping motion as I told her my line in the play; “Our people expect us to do something!”
“So you see Miss Colbert, I went into the Liquor Business.”
“Mr. Brookman, I want you to have lunch with me. Is one o’clock in my apartment here at the Watergate acceptable to you?”
I agreed of course. That night I looked up her career and pictures when she was a “starlet.” I saw a movie poster of her hitchhiking in “It Happened One Night,” with her skirt raised and Clark Gable looking on. A hot, seductive actress with a cuteness and quick wit about her. Could it be this eighty year old was seducing me? Having sex with a movie star has always been on my bucket list, however I never expected it would happen this way.
When I arrived at her beautiful suite, she immediately told me to call her Lily as her friends do. We were having scallops at lunch and I began asking her some questions about the golden age of Hollywood and people. She mentioned her nude scene in “Cleopatra” and the filming of it. Then she proceeded to tell me that she would be doing a TV movie called “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles” and she wanted to know if I was interested in a small part that she thought I would be perfect for.
“Lily, I am not an actor. My only desire is to be in the liquor/wine business for money and one day return to my writing I gave up.”
I continued; “I write great poetry but most people like my prose stories.”
“That’s it Paul! The twinkle in your eye is from your poet’s heart. I’ve met a lot of writers in my time, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, and most had become drunks and lost that twinkle by the time I met them.”
A cherry cheesecake and coffee was brought to the table by her personal server.
“Lily, I think Zelda took that twinkle from his eyes, and not the drinking. I do not think I have ever had a more delicious cheesecake.”
“You must come and visit me in Barbados. My chef there makes the best deserts;” She said.
At this point I decided to find out what this was all about. Was this a seduction from an eighty year old movie star?
“Paul, I have been a famous actress most of my life. After meeting most of the famous and great people of my time, I’ve learned who to value and who to need around me. I see it in you. You make people better. You actually make people get what they desire most from this life. That twinkle in your eye inspires me. You are magical. I am about to do “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles” and that most likely will be my last role. I’m asking you to be my lucky charm. My friend.”
“Lily, you don’t need a lucky charm, but it would be an honor to be your friend.”
Time went by, and Lily would call me every now and then to get my support. She was magnificent in the movie and it was her last. I never accepted any invitations from her and few people in my life ever knew we stayed in contact up until her death on July 30th, 1996 at the age of 92. It was a moment that the twinkle did briefly dim in my eyes, but became brighter when I began remembering our first meeting and how it happened, one beautiful day.