Friday, October 26, 2012

The Perkins

The Perkins house was originally built as a barn, the old stalls converted into bedrooms with a long hallway connecting to the kitchen, dining room and living room area. I was staying in one of the upstairs bedrooms that summer with the rest of the house empty except on occasion when Tony came to town to promote the latest Psycho movie that was in the Theater that year. He was tall and handsome and very much into health and fitness. I would prepare for his arrival, stocking the refrigerator with fresh juice, his favorite fruits and vegetables, goat cheese and a special blend of coffee. I made sure his favorites were waiting for him when he came home to be on The Tonight Show.
I can still remember the first night I met the Academy Award-nominated, Golden Globe-winning American stage and screen actor, best known for his role as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and its many sequels. He and Berry were going out that night. My friend, their usual baby sitter, couldn't make it at the last minute and asked me to step in for her. I jumped at the chance to meet the woman whose photographs I had studied in journalism school, Berry Berenson. She was a cult icon and her husband Tony was more than a movie star, he was a legend. I couldn't believe my luck.
When I entered their house, Tony was seated behind their kitchen counter drinking a bottle of water, long before it was something everyone did.
“Would you like some goat cheese?” the tall, lanky actor asked as he stood, smearing cheese on crackers. I had never tasted goat cheese before and it sounded very fancy to this simple valley girl.
“Sure,” I said as he motioned for me to take a seat across from him on one of the kitchen bar stools. He looked right through me, as if he could see right into the heart of me. It was a bit unnerving at first.
“Here, try this,” he gave me a cracker with cheese and they were delicious. I happily crunched away. “So tell me about yourself,” he asked, I was surprised that he put the spotlight on me. Then I became nervous. I mean, he was a movie star and he was asking about me. I didn't expect this at all. 
As I opened my mouth to answer, the goat cheese, along with my nerves made my mouth so dry, I could barely talk. He sensed the problem right away and jumped to my rescue, opening the refrigerator to get me a bottle of water. “Here, have some water.” “Berry will be right out.”
Berry came down the hall wearing a red Byblos pants outfit that looked amazing on her. She was such a natural beauty who had a confidence and warmth that immediately made me feel like part of her family. She was so unpretentious, generous in time, spirit and love. At the time, she drove a 67 Chevy, took care of her husband, her kids, their two dogs and two bunnies. That day, I didn't imagine myself being on that list but as luck had it, Berry soon took care of me too.

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