1967 - 2007
11:00 PM, Feb 11, 2007 • By LARRY MILLER
Some women try to arch an eyebrow when they make an entrance, or look sullen or regal, and I don't think I like any of those, but all she had to do to stop the show was be there. Whether you liked her or not, if there's an "it" factor in modeling, she had it. Maybe it flies away, or maybe it's hard to hold onto, but she sure had it then. In spades. And it was murder.
The maitre d' led the way, and he was smart enough to leave plenty of room between them so everyone could look, which, let's be honest, has been the point of the exercise since another blond some time back launched a thousand ships.
And right behind her was her companion, a guy who . . . well, who had to be--Okay, I'm sorry to have to say it this way, but there's no getting around it, so I'm just going to say it and be done--the shortest Arab in history.
He was out of uniform, so to speak, and couldn't--just couldn't--have been more than five feet. And she was a big girl, you know. That guy, though, bless his heart, had his head tipped up high, and the biggest smile I've ever seen in my life.
They sat down at their table, along the wall, next to each other on the booth side, a few tables away from us, and the room resumed it's life and din--but at a much lower level.
Then my wife said to me, "Why don't you go over and say hello?" I said something about, oh, no, I couldn't, and she said, "No one else is going to do it, and you just worked with her. Say hello." So I put my napkin on the table, stood up and walked over.
It wasn't a far walk. Which was lucky, because I was already starting to get flashbacks to junior high dances and wondering what I should say.
I decided instead to speak very quickly (the same approach I used in eighth grade), and walked up and said, "ExcusemefolksI'msorrytobotheryouAnnahiLarryMillerwejust--" and she smiled and said, "Oh, hi, good to see you, sure, that was a good show," and before I could answer she continued, "This is"--I can't remember his name--"and he flew all the way from Saudi Arabia to meet me and give me this. Isn't that amazing? Isn't it beautiful?"
She touched her chest with her hand (which was very sweet of her), and I looked down at what she was touching, a diamond necklace. Not a small one. Immense, actually, and they were spread all over her--what's the word?--décolletage. Then she continued, "But isn't that amazing? I mean, he came all the way from there, and just for tonight, one date, he's going back tomorrow. And just this, too, dinner."
She added a tiny, significant look, and after a slight pause I said, "Ah."
This seemed to state things pretty well, so I put on my best State Department smile and cleared my throat, and turned to him and said, "Well, it's a beautiful gift, and you have magnificent taste, not only in diamonds but in women. What an extraordinary and romantic trip, and I congratulate you."
And his smile got even bigger, and he nodded royally, which is when she said, in a slight whisper, "Oh, he doesn't speak English." My own smile froze a bit now, and I looked at her, then back at him, then back at her, and just said, "Ah," again. Then I held my hand out to him and said, "Well, it's a pleasure to . . . uh . . . well," and he took it in both of his, as warmly as I've ever been greeted. So I decided it wasn't the right time to bring up Israel.
She laughed then, looking right at me, and clapped her hands (probably seeing something I didn't think was showing), and it was a good laugh, a life-is-funny-isn't-it? laugh, and I like to think I know something about laughs, and that's when I decided I liked her. And I nodded and smiled and said, "Take care of yourself," and she said, "You, too."
No one else went over to her that night. But I'll tell you what I really remember.
As I walked away from their table I turned around and took one more look back, and they had returned to . . . I don't know. Just being there, I guess. Two people smiling, as happy as could be. I don't know what they could've talked about. He didn't speak English, and, I'm sorry, but I think it's a fairly safe bet she didn't speak Arabic.
That's the image I took with me, though, that look back at them. I've remembered it over the years each time she came onto the "news" (whatever that even means anymore) and it's the one I remembered when I heard she died last week: this shockingly-beautiful, startlingly-built creature next to a man the top of whose head didn't go above her bicep. But they were both happy; and I liked her. Oh, hell, I guess I liked them both.
WE'LL HEAR A LOT about her and those left around her in the weeks and months to come. Years, probably, since so much money is involved. It won't be pleasant for those of us who don't have a taste for it, but that's the way it goes.