Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Birthday to me -- Pt. 3

Saturday my friend John gave me a terrific birthday present -- it was so good it was, as Neely O'Hara herself would say, "a double-triple." He took me to a special screening of Valley of the Dolls at a grand old movie palace. Built in 1929, the Music Box has only one screen, an elegant red curtain, an old-fashioned organ, and it seats only about 500.

Saturday it was packed with my people. People who love Valley of the Dolls. Fans who, like me, can recite the dialog:

"Sparkle, Neely, sparkle!"

"It's a rotten business."
"I know, but I love it."

"Oh, the hell with 'em. Let 'em droop!"

"Now get outta my way. I got a MAN waiting for me."*

"Boobies! Who needs 'em?"

"Art films? NUDIES! That's all they are!"

"All cats are gray at night."

"I'm gonna heat up the lasagna."

The men sitting in front of John and me brought pill bottles filled with "dolls" … OK, they were really M&Ms. As a sign of unity for those of us who love this cinematic classic, they turned and rewarded me for knowing the film so well by sharing their "dolls." But not all of them. They needed to save enough to shake and rattle the pill bottle every time Anne, Jennifer or especially our beloved Neely popped a pill (or two, or handful.)

As if seeing this camp classic in a theater among my own for the fist time wasn't delightful enough, after the movie, Neely HERSELF came out on stage. Yes, Miss Patty Duke was there, live and in person.

What's more, she's Cathy who's lived most everywhere, from Zanzibar to Berkeley Square, as well as Patty, who's only seen the sites a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights. And, of course, Helen Keller.

It was a real-live icon, right in front of me. A small, slender woman who looks every one of her 65 years, but still has a great figure and a terrific sense of humor and warmth. She freely admitted that she used to abhor Valley of the Dolls but now she loves it. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say she loves how much we love it. She told stories about Sharon Tate and Judy Garland, about Anne Bancroft and Gregory Peck and the night she won her Oscar for The Miracle Worker. She even sang a duet of "Come Live with Me," aping this most tasteless scene from the Valley of the Dolls.

On the way out of the theater, our eyes met and she said "hi." I was thuh-rilled! I can't imagine a better present. Then he and I went out for tapas and sangria. I had a lovely time.

I always do with John. As with my best friend, I can be myself -- my goofiest self -- with him. Sometimes I think that's been John's greatest gift to me, the way he simply takes me as I am.

*I included that one for you, Snarkela.


  1. Wow!!!!!!!!! Patty Duke!!!!!!!! Color me green with envy! What a fantastic birthday present.

  2. Awesome birthday present! I'm so glad for you!

  3. Anonymous6:22 PM

    Wow, that's awesome! I probably would have been a little star-struck myself.