The Silver Cloud incident*
One of the perils of writing an autobiography is The Memory Lapse. Alas I experienced more than several of those pesky buggers while chronicling the variety of events and characters of the roughly seventy-five years covered in my memoir trilogy.
In retrospect – the normal autobio mode – this event seems unforgettable and yet here we are. Had my powers of recall been with me at the time this would have been in the second of my memoir books Circumstances Beyond My Control.
Sometime in the early 1980s Elizabeth went to LA for two weeks to study with Esther Andreas, a voice teacher she’d worked with in the City. I missed her sorely.
When she was coming home I decided to meet her at the airport but to do it in the style befitting my delight with her return. I was working a lot and was somewhat flush at the time so I hired a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud complete with driver.
The minimum contract was for three hours so I had the chauffeur pick me up at home and drive me to LaGuardia. When I went out the front door of my building there was this vision of automotive splendor being ogled by several curious and highly impressed neighbors.
The chauffeur was very much part of the picture. A tall handsome man, his skin tone matched the light brown leather upholstery and his uniform matched the rich brown paint on the chariot. Since I was to be traveling in style I wore a sport jacket and slacks rather than my usual jeans and work-shirt. When he saw me approaching the automobile (I can’t call this magnificent vehicle a “car”.) he emerged and opened the back door. I said I’d prefer to ride up front with him but he politely pointed out the impropriety of my so doing.
It was obvious to this classy gentleman that I was a neophyte to this mode of transport so he took it upon himself to educate me in the proprieties. As we smoothly cruised – and believe me, it was smooth – across town my driver respectfully explained the protocols. I was never to touch a door handle, he would always open and close the doors. We became coconspirators for the coming airport event. I was to indicate the correct bag and he would recover Mrs. Bryant’s luggage, place it in the boot (not the “trunk”) and usher us into his magnificent vehicle.
In those days you were allowed to meet your loved ones at the gate so Elizabeth and I shared a brief, happy reunion there.
I suppose that a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, unlike mere cars, is allowed to stand unattended in the arrivals area because Jeeves (I’ve forgotten his actual name) was waiting in the baggage claim. Elizabeth had no reason to notice him, did not see our subtle eye to eye communication, until he moved to the carousel and picked up her suitcase. She looked at me bewildered.
“It’s okay, Honey. Let’s just follow the man.”
Our chariot had drawn an admiring crowd which parted in wonder as our threesome approached. I saw pointing and whispers of “Who is that?” and the like as Elizabeth stopped dead in her tracks and gaped when Jeeves deposited her bag in the trunk, excuse me, the boot, of this extraordinary conveyance. I grinned.
That ride was the first time I’d made out with a girl in the back seat of a car since the Norman Luboff Choir tour in 1962. And it was the first time ever in a Rolls-Royce! (Maybe it won’t be the last.)
Does it count if the girl is your wife?
- This is a revision of a blog post from 2014.