Back in the 1970’s, my girlfriends and I decided to spend a Saturday night without boys at a restaurant in midtown called Jacques. Long gone now, Jacques was a cool, elegant white table-cloth place that stayed open late and served delicious Hungarian food. We looked lovely walking in, in our pretty summer dresses and soft shampooed hair.
While the maitre d’ was escorting us to our table, Barbara gave my arm an annoying pinch while gasping wide-eyed that Jolie Gabor, mother to Magda, the infamous Zsa Zsa, and Eva was sitting at a table in the center. I had noticed the large jovial group and some of the women bejeweled.
During the course of our dinner, Barbara began to complain how it was like pulling teeth to get any one of her males to volunteer to help wallpaper her kitchen. I think I saw tears well up in her mink-lashed cocker spaniel eyes when she switched her tone from being pissed off to heartbreakingly lonely. The topic of women’s lib and its pros and cons arose and suddenly, perhaps under the influence of her third glass of white wine, Amy, who believed and rightfully so that we were still too young to concern ourselves with men or kitchens, began to ululate like Tarzan.
I noticed a man seated across the room at the Jolie Gabor table cock an ear. Then without the slightest hesitation, he got up to make his way over to us.
“It’s Tarzan!”Amy shrieked.
It was Tarzan. But in my eyes he was Johnny Weissmuller, five time Olympic gold medalist swimmer and one time bronze.
“That’s not the way to do it,” he said annoyed, all 6 ft. 3 of him.
A waiter appeared like a miracle from out of nowhere to swiftly and graciously slide a chair under Mr. Weissmuller’s rear, I think preventing him from putting it into reverse and careening through the swinging kitchen door.
He was still handsome decked out in his well-tailored tuxedo. The cuffs of his starched white ruffled shirt revealed embroidered initials that repeated themselves as ornate gold and diamond links, and around his neck hung his medals.
The others sort of sat there with ridiculous grins on their faces but I, a swimmer for all my life, looked upon him in awe.
“I’m a swimmer,” I said, rather like an idiot.
After a few minutes of cordial chat, this absolute sweetheart of a man rose from our table, almost taking all of it with him. Later I read somewhere that he’d recently had hip surgery and a broken leg.
Denise Falcone is a writer who lives in New York City. Her New York stories have appeared in J Journal, Antique Children, Kerouac’s Dog, and others.