Celebrity Sightings

CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS by Harvey Feinstein You know their faces from television. You’ve seen them in the movies or read about them in magazines and newspapers. Have you ever been so close to someone of notoriety to say hello, or mumble a greeting? Of course you have. We all have. Some are so familiar that you actually believe you know them, and are affronted when they don’t know who you are. I started thinking about it, asked my friends the same question, and decided to develop it into a party game. It’s one game in which you don’t need pencil or paper, just a good story and the ability to tell it. There was one rule. No lies. Whoever can top the other players wins, and we had some doozies. The first meeting of the Celebrity Club was at my house in Southampton. We lit a fire, finished dinner, were ready for coffee and ready to start the game. There were six of us. The first one up remembered being in London and seeing Princess Di driving her own car. She had stopped at a traffic light. As he was crossing the street their eyes met. Not a bad way to start the game. Check one for Jerry. Another guest saw Alan Alda shopping in East Hampton. I guess that’s ok…not fabulous. Half a point for Connie. Then someone who lived around the corner from Greta Garbo on East 50th St, told us she waited at Gristidies every morning to see Garbo shopping. They never spoke. Another walked behind Kathryn Hepburn for two blocks, as she lived in Turtle Bay on East 47th Street. The game was decidedly slow in getting started. When it was my turn I told them I had met someone equal to theirs, and actually sat and talked with her. A friend of mine was born in New Zealand. His father was Scots and his mother was part Maori. My friend was related to Kiri Te Kanoa the Opera star, who was also a Maori. They were from the same tribe and were distantly related to Queen Te Ata Iringi Kaahu, Dame of the British Empire, and the traditional ruler of the Maori people. She was visiting New York for the opening of a Maori Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Queen was staying at my friends house in East Hampton, and I was invited to tea. Queen Te Ata had 3 ladies in waiting with her, as well her husband Prince Fatu. She was the color of polished walnut, very gracious, and that afternoon she was dressed in a native flower printed tapa-type cloth, cut in conventional style a la Lily Pulitzer. Around her neck she wore a beautiful piece of New Zealand jade carved as a religious totem. I felt honored to meet her and we chatted about inconsequential things. After all, what do you talk about to a Queen. “What’s the weather like at home”? The following day I had a call from my friend and was pleasantly surprised to be invited to join them at the beach in East Hampton. This would be interesting. I was the first one there not wanting to keep them waiting, and had staked out a place in the sand when I saw their arrival as they crossed over the dune. The scene consisted of my two friends carrying an enormous hamper of food, the Ladies in Waiting burdened with towels and large an overnight bag, Prince Fatu carried blankets, a small rug, and an umbrella. I offered to assist and carried a special recliner that had been strapped to the top of the car. It was for the Queen. She was sublimely indifferent to the crowd of curious bathers who were now turning in our direction. We made quite a procession. The Queen was wearing a printed MuuMuu and she had a fresh hibiscus tucked into her hair which she wore as a tight bun at the back of her head. In profile she resembled a Gauguin. We were busy laying out carpets, opening chairs, and unfurling umbrellas in the breeze. The pile of food were deposited into a pit dug in the sand and shaded from the sun by a striped awning. I was suddenly aware that the Queen was preparing to get undressed on the beach, just as they do at home, I assumed. She had never bathed in the Atlantic Ocean. She was a portly woman, though elegant she was getting on in age. All that was missing was a silhouette of a palm tree. Someone had neglected to tell her that swimming bare was a no-no in East Hampton. But the Queen was instructing her Ladies in the Maori language. She began to lift her Muu Muu when in a flash the Ladies opened towels, holding them head high, surrounding her. She proceed to change her costume, while the breeze threatened to reveal all. She emerged from the wall of towels wrapped in a sarong and a neat halter and proceed to walk straight into the water as though she was born to it. She never stopped to test the temperature. The water was rougher than what she might have been used to, and the Ladies still in their MuuMuus were clearly nervous. But she was laughing and being pounded by the strong waves. We were all concerned. After all, she was not a nobody. If anything happened to her could it provoke war with New Zealand? Finally Price Fatu joined her in the ocean in his jockey shorts, having neglected to pack a swimsuit. They enjoyed themselves tremendously as did everyone else on the beach who now ringed the shoreline. They were also wondering at the “tent city” that had magically been built to protect this woman. “Who was she”, they were asking. It was to the great relief of everyone when she and her husband, who both proved to be strong swimmers finally emerged dripping from the sea, happy, smiling, and it didn’t bother them a bit that they had become somewhat transparent in their skimpy swimming attire. Though the hibiscus had floated away, her hair never changed it’s position. At the time. Te Atta was about 58 and her husband Fatu was in his 60′s. Wrapped in towels she lay down on her recliner, immediately became Queenly again, as we prepared to enjoy a delicious apres midi lunch at the beach. I introduced her name into the game of “Celebrity Sightings” but I lost. No one ever heard of Queen Te Ata Iringi Kaahu. They gave my points to anyone who ever saw Alan Alder. Harvey Feinstein, 26 Oriole Lane, Greenport NY 11944. harveyhowardf@aol.com