Thursday, February 4, 2010

Joe Bauer Remembers Zelda

I met Zelda at the home of Graham and Alex maybe fifteen years ago. I think I didn't realize her size immediately as her presence was so large. Andre the Giant couldn't have filled the room more. As I recall, she eyed me up and down, decided I had something to offer (she was a proud flirt) and extended her hand, saying "hi, honey! Nice to meet you! Graham has told me so much about you!" Had he? Who knows, but that set me at ease and off we went into conversation about who knows what. I didn't think of the movie career that had so influenced my younger life-- I didn't have a chance. You needed full attention to keep up with Zelda's nimble, darting, inquiring mind. She was the definition of "cutting to the chase". She was a tremendous story weaver (better than "teller"), and worked the pregnant pauses and big payoffs. Her dramatic abilities were indistinguishable from her living, each informing the other at every moment. Some party, I'd passed out on Graham's sofa (not like me, really!) and woke to the strange sensation of small hands messaging my face. My eyes opened and focused on Zelda, hovering ethereally above like a welcoming angel, my head in her lap. She said "lay still honey, this is good for you"-- something in that vein. I'm sure it included "honey", though she also called me "good lookin'" and simply "Joe Bauer" (never simply "Joe"). After her most recent heart attack I visited her at Cedars, expecting to find her flat on her back, monitors and tubes, etc. Instead she was down the hall, entertaining her doctor and some aids in a small dining room, alert as ever. Some would have been deflated by the circumstance but Zelda weighed it, accepted it and moved on. I think that's what I'll always remember about Zelda; she never stopped moving forward.

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