One sunset early in May found me looking out of my bedroom window at the Pacific Ocean in Malibu. I was the lucky winner of a choice design project, my first. The contract stipulated a live-in clause (guaranteed excitement, especially if the client is a Hollywood diva). She was beautiful slightly tinged with madness, that obligatory ingredient for a diva. Most of the time she was calm and practical, but then out of nowhere she could rear up like an untamed filly. A funny, beautiful, capable thoroughbred (we met at the LA equestrian center, hence the comparison), but suddenly prone to sobbing breakdowns. This usually was my cue for long beach walks.
Madame proprietress' blue eyes would blaze at me. “Have you seen him?” “Whom?” I ask. “My husband”, she said. No, I had not. “Was he living with us”? “No, he is dead. He died in your bedroom, but he is still with us.”
There was definitely a strange atmosphere there. Bijela felt it, and sometimes in the night, I would wake and see her looking intently at the air, her eyes a liquid black, ears slightly raised and her shiny nose flexing in silent dialog. For all that, it was an enchanted place. Lying in bed, with the windows open was like being on a raft on the high sea. The breeze swept through the room carrying on it the crash of the waves, the benediction of “husband”, and all the mystery of death and love.
Like all “beach cottages” at the Malibu Riviera, it was obscenely overpriced. Apparently, a ‘former’ member of the British royal family had rented it before us and had rather aptly told the exasperated proprietress that it was like the seven dwarves’ cottage. “Can you imagine?” she retorted. “Who is she? Not Snow White, that’s for sure.”
When I presented the colors and textures to the client, she was delighted and announced that we would go shopping immediately. I then witnessed the complete Hollywood star machine, the grandeur of Hollywood in transporting its livestock. We would fly by private jet. Gates opened by magic, carpets rolled out, cars waiting to whisk us away. We would sip our drinks as we sped through the world. Huddled together in the back of limousines and on the plane, she chatted intensely on subjects that you can only discuss with another woman, or a man who was not nursing a hidden erection. There is a male quality to the female superstar. I suppose there has to be. If a woman is going to survive in Hollywood on the journey to becoming a star, she must develop special “people skills”. She had them, in spades. Suppliers rallied to accommodate our wants without a second thought. I have not since got such undivided attention, or shopped with such ease. Life stood still.
I finished my project, she loved it, and I still love “Snow White's” cottage, with a passion.