Tag Archives: truth is stranger than fiction

In the last six weeks, it feels like a great deal of talent has left this earth. Maybe I’m more sensitive to it than I would be normally, but really, July and August have been rough on the Hollywood farewells. Really rough.

Monday morning, after learning of the the passing of Phyllis Diller, I thought about how, in some small way, I thank her for my being here. Because for many years that was how the story went. Kind of.

Diller didn’t introduce my parents, but for many years, up until Monday, I was under the impression she’d played a part in letting them know they were meant to be together.

My grandfather is an entertainment attorney and did a lot of work in London. That was where the giant rhinos came from. But somehow, someone tied Diller to the story at some point. I don’t know who. It was just a side note. The rhinos came from London.

A six-foot leather rhinoceros. A four-foot one. And a three-foot one, too. Like The Three Bears only with horns and fine with being sat on.

Crated and shipped from a small workshop in England to Los Angeles, my dad remembered them showing up at the house when he was in his early teens. My grandparents traveled a lot. They brought home different things. He just remembers them one day being there.

When you grow up with giant leather rhinos, you never think to ask, “Where did the rhinos come from?” They’re simply there. Like ottomans and ends tables. Only more fun to climb on.

I grew up in with the Papa rhino in my nursery. I used it to cruise along as I began to walk. Later, my sister and I would go on safaris and have tea parties with him, and he was so well-loved that his tail would end up like Eeyore’s, held in by a nail.

We never named him. I don’t believe any of the rhinos were ever named in our family. Edie Sedgwick called her Papa rhino Wallow, which I remember first seeing at about 15, as I read George Plimpton’s Edie: American Girl. From the pages of VOGUE in the mid-sixties, there was Edie doing an arabesque upon Wallow’s back. It was a pose I’d struck myself many times, only I’d been much smaller and wasn’t holding a cigarette.

The rhinos hold memories for me and my friends, as they do for my father and his childhood friends who always had stories to tell when they see the big guy in my parent’s living room. But the one I grew up with didn’t come from my dad’s childhood home.

It was from my mother’s.

Of all the living rooms in all of Los Angeles, that family of rhinos showed up in both my parent’s childhood homes.

I always loved that. Loved that beyond the story of how my parents met was the Day of the Rhinos. The moment where one saw the trio of Rhinocerotidae at the other one’s house and realized that maybe it was a sign that they were meant to be together. At least that’s how I always imagined it.

If you both live in homes where a trio of rhinos fit nicely amongst the art and furniture and people and pets, it’s kismet. Fate. Call it what you will. It was a sign.

What are the chances that a tiny company in the UK that used the leftover scraps from Liberty’s of London luggage makers to stitch their menagerie would end up crossing paths? Animal footstools were their biggest seller, still are, but the rhinos, especially the larger ones, were a rare order. The one’s on my mom’s side came via Abercrombie and Fitch. Back when Abercrombie was more Mad Men selling cool lucite bar sets then half-clad men outside their flagship stores.

They all began in this same little factory, where even today they’re hand stitched and stuffed, regardless of whether my grandmother bought them on a whim while shopping at Liberty’s of London on Diller’s recommendation or if they were, in fact, a gift. I doubt I’ll ever find out what really happened. But it doesn’t matter much.

Boy meets girl. They place rhinos in rooms instead of elephants. And they live quite happily ever after.

P.S. Jonathan Adler has brought some of these critters stateside. So while the chances are slightly less bizarre that two people could own Omersa pets, they’re still fabulous. You can find the Baby Rhino on his site.

This post contains affiliate links.

me. in shorts. twice.

I was writing a post yesterday, for today, about how I’d recently embraced shorts for the first time since high school and was giving up on needing to self tan my SPF shielded skin. Pale is the new tan, right?

You know what I love about getting older? You stop caring about certain self-imposed rules. For years I subscribed to the notion shorts were for camp counselors and tourists. Not my style. I felt as strongly about my dislike of shorts as I do of tennis shoes – my opinion has not changed about tennis shoes. I have a lot of opinions.

A few months ago, I saw a beautiful pair of shorts in navy eyelet and bought them. And after that came a few more – the flared ones with the ruched waist at French Connection and the high waisted 40s-inspired ones from J. Crew. Suddenly, I was buying new wedges and sandals because they looked great with shorts. The shorts I thought I didn’t like.

For weeks, I’ve been wearing shorts without self tanning or real tanning or anything much to conceal my SPF protected skin (and the resulting glow that’s more ghostly than golden). But I don’t care.

I tanned all the summers of my childhood, I freckled and turned a golden brown, but as I got older, the less I liked the heat and the less time I spent in the sun unless slathered in SPF.

Sometimes life feels to short (no pun intended) to worry if my skin looks sun-kissed enough in my skirts and sundresses (and now shorts, too). Pale is the new tan.#ownthebrag

(breaking out the high school yearbook pics)

I’ve tried on a few pairs that I feel just a bit too old to wear. Lengths I wore at 18, some slightly longer but still…short. Too short at 34 I thought, which made me think of this Nora Ephron quote I hold dear:

“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini the entire time I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.”

Early last night as I was leaving an event, posting the piece on shorts on the list of to-dos when I got home, I learned that Ephron had passed away, via twitter.

And suddenly the post scheduled was something different.

As a screenwriter, as a filmgoer and as a reader, my life is richer because of Ephron’s work. My life is better for having Harry Burns and Sally Albright in it. From life lessons to Fruppsday my daily banter is filled with Ephron-isms.

On a personal level, our families are intertwined in the serendipitous ways that multiple generations in the same business can be. Her mother wrote a play that would later become a TV series directed and produced by my grandfather. Forty years later, another TV show written and directed by my grandfather would become a film directed by Ephron. It all seemed to come full circle.

I read the tweets in disbelief.

One of the last people I saw before I read the news was my friend Morgan. I literally was getting into an elevator to leave as she was arriving at a social media event and we said a quick hello and goodbye. I’ve known Morgan most of my life, and growing up it was with our sisters and our parents and mutual family friends that I first saw Ephron’s films.

Amongst some shorts-wearing photos from once upon a time I had planned to include in the original post was this shot of me in pattern overload (I remember the Espirit top and the shorts well. They were not meant to be worn together. The splattered painted hat from Fred Segal over my ponytail is just icing on the sartorial cake nightmare). In the middle is my sister. On the right, Morgan. Only connect

Valley Girls ca. 1988

I tweeted Morgan almost immediately after hearing of Ephron’s passing. I thought perhaps today I’d wear dots. At the very least, I think I’ll consider the shorter shorts.