What I Should Have Done When I Shook Hands With Sydney Pollack
When I shook hands with Sydney Pollack, I didn’t know how much I loved him.
He was dressed like a cowboy when everyone else was dressed in their filmfest best.
His grip was firm but welcoming. He looked me in my eyes and his smile still lingers on my shoulders. I wish I would have recognized more than his face. I wish I would have
known that his heart bloomed Dustin Hoffman into Tootsie, that his soul carried Streisand to tears in The Way We Were. When I shook hands with Sydney Pollack
all I was thinking about was Tom Cruise. That Sydney’s hand – the hand in mine – surely shared skin with Tom Cruise, likely even patted his back or landed on his
shoulder a resting in friendship. Tom Cruise I thought so hard it tied my tongue.
You directed him in The Firm, you acted with him in Eyes Wide Shut. My eyes were
wide shut. Kevin-Bacon-greased in the degrees of separation between Tom Cruise and I. Sydney Pollack, one separation away from Tom. His hand in Tom’s hand was Tom’s
hand in mine. When I shook hands with Sydney Pollack, I should have noticed he was alone, on his way to enter a side door, six feet from the blood-red carpet he had no
desire to dirty his black cowboy boots upon. I should have said, May I join you, sir? May I be your date for this evening’s soiree? He may have said no, gracefully, but he could
have said yes – then opened the door for me and gestured me forward into a night beyond should.
If you don’t already know this about me, here it is. I’m a gargantuan movie lover. I went to film school, for goodness sake. In my teens and twenties I was convinced I was headed for the Hollywood hills, destined to be a light bursting its path in the Los Angeles highway of filmmaking. I thought I would be an assistant to a movie star while moonlighting as a screenwriter or a 1st AD (assistant director), literally rubbing shoulders with all my Hollywood heroes. That dream still fondles a part of my soul…and some days it feels like at least part of that dream is possible – the writing part.
This morning I was thinking about being famous. What that means. Why I am fascinated by it. Why I have a desire, a pretty consistent desire, to be famous…but in a peaceful, quiet kind of way…if that’s even possible.
If you don’t already know this about me, I’ve always dreamed of meeting Tom Cruise. This dream has evolved over the years. Gone is the panting tween wanting to make out in a cockpit with Maverick. Nah, I have my own Maverick (Hi husband!). Gone is sharing the silver screen in a Mission Impossible. What remains is, funnily enough, a simple want to shake his hand. Look in his eyes. Maybe share a meal and talk about movies and family and love and loss. (With my husband at the table. Hi husband!) If Tom wants to kiss me, well, he just can’t.
I think my feelings of desire to slipper-slide into famous-ity (new word alert) comes on the toes of my new book coming out. There’s always a part of me that believes this is the book! This is the one that will win the awards! This is the one that will get me on Fallon. Oh, the places these poems will take me! I don’t know…perhaps it’s silly. Perhaps there are no pipes for these kind of dreams. I know they’re not about money or fame, but about connectivity and sharing. And the truth is when anyone reads poetry – and shares it and buys it and talks about it and feels something from it – these are gifts that bring poets to tears of joy. At least this poet.
Sometimes it’s fun…and necessary and important to jump into the world of shoulda-coulda-woulda. There’s information there. There’s joy and enlightenment. There’s a kid in her jammies watching a young man smile, crooked teeth gleaming, gum popping, pen-clicking, whose little heart started believing that a man like that could exist for her. And guess what – she married him. (Hi husband!)
Who are your Hollywood crushes? What are your dreams to be famous?