From l981, thereabouts, to l985 or 6, I'd say, I played the role of Carrie Fisher's second banana and new best friend. There have been many of us over the years, but this was my particular tenure. I'm moved about it to write today for obvious reasons. It didn't begin at the Paul Simon/Artie Garfunkel Passover supper at a dark restaurant in Manhattan, though that's the first place I saw her sing "Oh My Papa," drunk as a skunk.
It actually began on the floor of Richard Dreyfuss's apartment where she announced in that deep froggy delivery: "You're going to be my New Best Friend." I had just moved to New York and was going out with one of her fave rave running mates, Michael O'Donoghue. I couldn't see it. While she was, yes, somewhat funny, I could see that she was totally discombobulated.
She pressed her case. She kept dropping by Michael's with lavish gifts for him, like a taxidermed bear. These visits were also designed to vet me better. I was writing for Esquire and Rolling Stone. It only gradually dawned on me that Carrie had writer envy. While she had made her way in movies, she secretly desired to be a writer. She had been around actors all her life, but writers were a different breed in her book. Writers were smart. Being respected as very intelligent was the goal.
She was highly intelligent. She was intensely funny. She was a fascinating study up close. Her mind moved in labyrinthian ways. During my term as NBF, she was on the first leg of recreating herself in a discipline Debbie didn't do. She had also come into her first multi-millions. She was 24 years old. I didn't let her sweep me off my feet because I was in the midst of recreating myself. Being sidecar to this crazy whirlwind was going to mess with my own credibility. She began to lavish tribute my way. The offerings were always wildly expensive.
Which brings me to being asked to serve as a bridesmaid in her wedding to Paul Simon. Because of this fabulous attachment, Penny Marshall and I, along with groomsmen, were whisked along on their honeymoon up the Nile By this time, as you can imagine, I was thoroughly pledged to the cause. This trip up the Nile was a trip, if you follow my drift. It was on that private pleasure boat it dawned on me that my real role was as straight man. Carrie had packed a fairy outfit complete with gossamer wings that she appeared in when we tied up to an island in the middle of the river for a full course banquet. When she blew glitter on our Arab crew, who had already had enough of us, they were not amused.
She had instructed me, before I left L.A., to ride up Lookout Mountain to her dealer to get the Grateful Dead acid I was to bring along to Cairo so we could drop some during our exclusive evening inside Cheops' tomb. I said I didn't think it was wise to fly halfway around the world with it even if the liquid sunshine was in a Murine bottle. No, no! How else were we to actually commune with the Pharaoh? It goes to show how persuasive she was when she wanted something she wanted that I procured it. One story about this and then I'll quit for a later installment along the same lines.
When Penny and I got off the plane, we proceeded to the outdoor immigration space. I had hidden, get this, the Murine bottle in my...electric rollers! Remember those? In their own plastic case? I assumed the burly inspector who went through my bags wouldn't deal with the case. He asked me, "What's this?"
"Electric hair rollers," I answered. He slowly unzipped the damn thing, watching me suspiciously the whole time. It was 105 degrees at 9 p.m. Needless to say, I was unhinged and sweating.
"What's this?" He asked, pulling out the Murine bottle. It was then I noticed, to my horror, what one comes to register in every other legitimate Egyptian: painfully dry red eyes from living in that hellacious heat. He lifted the bottle for closer inspection. He unscrewed the top.
(To be continued.)