Cocktails with Lauren Bacall…


15 or 20 years ago, I was in New York chatting with a very dear friend and mentor, Schuyler Chapin, who was easily one of the most interesting people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I mentioned that I was going back to Boston the next day for an event being held at the Giorgio Armani boutique on Newbury St. and that Lauren Bacall was going to be there.

“Send Betty my love,” Schuyler said.

So the following evening, I went to the cocktail party, and I was introduced to Lauren Bacall.

“I think we have a friend in common,” I said, and when I told her who it was, she said, “We certainly do.” I’d clearly earned the stamp of approval, because she put her hand on my forearm and began talking, pretty oblivious to all the other people in the room. She was witty and salty and unbelievably charming, but I got the sense that small talk and cocktail parties weren’t really her thing. Now that she’d met someone with whom she shared a mutual friend, she seemed reluctant to let me go. Which would have been fine, except that there were at least three other journalists in the room who desperately wanted a photo of her and definitely didn’t want a reporter from a competing publication in the shot (a situation I’ve found myself in again). They didn’t have much choice, though.

Inevitably, someone interrupted us, and Lauren Bacall gave me a peck on the cheek and told me it was lovely to meet me in that unmistakable, unforgettable whiskey-sexy voice. And somewhere in the photo archives of the Boston Globe or the Boston Herald, there’s a picture of me with Lauren Bacall.

R.I.P., Betty. And please send Schuyler my best.