Monday, October 26, 2009

Elizabeth Taylor and Me

Near The Plains, Virginia, 2005

Some of you may recall that during the late 1970s Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia was married to Elizabeth Taylor. It was not her best of times. She briefly drew international media attention to Richmond when a fried chicken bone got stuck in her throat at a luncheon there. Supposedly distraught over Senator Warner’s long absences when the U.S. Senate was in session, she put on a lot of weight.

When my wife and I were newly married, our best friends were fellow newlyweds Ralph and Cathy. None of us had any money. We spent Saturday nights at our place or theirs, having spaghetti and toasting our impending fortunes over glasses of Riunite wine and watching Saturday Night (later known as Saturday Night Live).

Wondering what this has to do with Liz Taylor? Hold on, it’s coming.

Cathy had what was for us a glamour job. She was the scheduler for the state’s Attorney General, an up-and-coming young Republican by the name of J. Marshall Coleman. The job sounded more glamorous than it was. But compared to Ralph and me schlepping newspapers and my wife making sure people paid their newspaper bills, it seemed pretty posh. At least you got to meet some interesting people.

One of those people was Marshall’s charming and artistic wife, Nicki. Nicki took a liking to Cathy, and eventually to the rest of us. As Marshall geared up for the first of what would be two unsuccessful runs for governor, the Colemans invited Ralph and Cathy to various political and social events. Sometimes my wife and I got to tag along.

One fall, the Colemans and their two young children were invited to Senator John Warner’s annual Republican Party picnic at his Atoka Farm, near Middleburg, Virginia. Ralph and Cathy were invited because of her job. When the Coleman children couldn’t go, my wife and I were invited to take their place.

Atoka is a farm in name only. There is cultivation going on. But mostly the farm is Senator Warner’s gentleman’s country estate, his retreat from the stresses of nearby Washington, D.C. There’s a massive stone mansion, tennis courts, swimming pool, stables and hundreds of acres of beautifully tended rolling Virginia countryside.

My wife and I, not being Republicans, thought we might have to skulk around the edge of the party. But upon finding more than a thousand people already there when we arrived, we quickly jumped right into the middle of things.

Which is how, according to my wife, I came to appear in a photograph in People magazine that showed me dancing with Elizabeth Taylor. I’ve only seen the picture once and believe it takes something of a leap of faith to believe that the two of us dancing in the same photograph means that we were dancing together. But it impressed the heck out of some of our relatives and co-workers, and that was worth more than a whole case of Riunite.

1 comment:

  1. LOL--fabulous!

    Middleburg is such a beautiful area. I knew he lived up there, but have never seen his place. Any time I ever drive up that way, I try to figure out exactly where he is. Between "People," and now "Martha Stewart Living," you're cavorting with the rich and famous all over the place.