Famous Father Girl by Jamie Bernstein

Famous Father Girl by Jamie Bernstein

Author:Jamie Bernstein
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2018-05-04T04:00:00+00:00

I arrived at the Dakota. Oohs and aahs over my very red dress. Mummy said I looked swell. But LB had a problem. He wanted me to tie up the strings that hang from the collar. “But they’re supposed to hang loose like that,” I explained. “That’s impossible,” he said. “Come on, tie them up.” “No, really, it’s okay, Daddy.” “Tie them up! You look like a slut!” he roared. He was half playing with me, making a fuss for the fun of fussing with me. “Ask Mummy,” I said. “Go ahead, ask her!” Mummy said that just the other night she’d seen some chic woman wearing her shirt that way. LB was undaunted. He started in with me all over again.

Fortunately, Betty Bacall arrived, and LB’s attention was diverted for a while. Then he started in AGAIN about my shirt. He started coming after me to tie up my dress. Half laughing, I kept backing off and he kept advancing, all the way from the bar to the living room. “Jamie, Jamie . . . why do you hate me so much?” What was going on??

LB laughed and laughed at the Steve Martin show. He was completely won over. After all the comedy gags and hilarious insincerity and bouncing around, Steve played his banjo. The incredible serenity that was suddenly washing over the audience from that stage!

Afterwards, the backstage manager escorted us to the good old green room. Steve Martin made fun of himself for being ignorant of LB’s field, yet there he was occupying the Maestro’s very own dressing room. At one point LB, inspired by Steve Martin’s antic energy, attempted to scramble on top of the grand piano in the green room. I wanted to die.

As we were leaving, we ran into Madeline Kahn. She said she was too shy to go in to meet Steve Martin, so LB said he’d take her in. The rest of us stood in the corridor, exhausted, hot, standing around, Waiting for Maestro. Finally I volunteered to go back in and get him out of there. Bravely I strode in and put my arm around LB and cleared my throat. And then, he did the unbelievable:

“Steve, will you please tell my daughter to tie the strings on her shirt?”

* * *

I tried to hew to my writing and my various jobs, and yet I couldn’t quite set aside my guitar; songs kept leaking out. There was a little piece of me that craved musical connections, hungered for performance—but I had such a terror of performing. The odious comparisons frayed my nerves, and I could never get through a song without making error after maddening error. While I practiced a tough passage, my stomach would writhe in distress as I fought down an overwhelming urge to flee. I realized one day that it was the identical feeling I used to have in that sickening half hour before the piano teacher arrived.

One drunken night at the grownups’ favorite hangout, Elaine’s, Alexander and I


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