May 03, 2011

“May Day ! ?” * ♬

I spent last weekend staying in a lovely guesthouse. I rather enjoyed it. In the morning, it caught the early sunrise, and there were walls of books. I woke looking at books I have read, books I have loved, and books I have almost but not quite forgotten.

Saturday morning I spotted this on the shelf…

Haywire created a sensation when it appeared in 1977. In it Brooke Hayward tells the tale of growing up as the daughter of producer Leland Hayward and his movie star wife, Margaret Sullavan, how it went wrong, and her search to understand it. It's a book that I've been meaning to re-read for years. But what I remembered most vividly is near the end of Haywire Brooke Hayward confessed "I had begun to have the disquieting concept of myself as a spectator, not a participant, in my own life. I saw myself as the audience, leaning back to watch my future unfold like Greek tragedy. I already had presentiments of the ending." Ms. Hayward was referring to a youth in which her parents divorced, and both her mother and her sister died of probable suicides.

However, this was an interesting passage in light of Ms. Hayward's Christmas plans in the early 2000’s. On Dec. 28th., Ms. Hayward and her then husband, bandleader Peter Duchin, along with a group of friends, gathered at Palazzo Brandolini in Venice, where they enjoyed what Ms. Hayward billed as the "dress rehearsal" for her funeral: an hour-long concert of Vivaldi, Monteverdi and even Handel, performed by the Venice Baroque Orchestra. Then, Ms. Hayward who said she was perfectly healthy departed her funeral and went to dinner.

"It's a kind of fake dress rehearsal”, she said, “Because I've never have the slightest interest in being buried. When I actually cool, you won't hear a word," she said. "My intention, as clearly stated in my will, is that I am cremated and my ashes thrown to the four winds. I don't want any service and I never did. I wanted it while I was alive so it would be fun."

And so it was.

Not a bad idea.

Oh, and one more thing: Contrary to rumors, Ms. Hayward did not experience her dress-rehearsal funeral from a coffin.

Of course not.

Virginia Gregg, Milton Selzer, Alan Sues and Brooke Hayward (Twilight Zone publicity shots  "The Masks" 3/20/64)

(*Mayday is an emergency code word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It derives from the French venez m'aider, meaning 'come help me'.  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

No comments: