I told a story in my Too Far to Walk book about buying a collection of antique African wooden sculptures from Sosoko, a trader friend from the Dark Continent. A short time later, Michael Douglas wandered into our gallery. I had not met him before but I knew his resume was crammed with accomplishments that would impress even the most self-possessed. He stayed in our guest house and we socialized for a short time. He seemed like a down-to-earth, normal kind of guy, so I asked him how he could not be affected by his successes, which included winning an Academy Award. His response spoke to his humanity. “Because, as Kirk Douglass’ son, I grew up with all those Hollywood stars who were big shots.”
Michael enjoyed antiques and purchased five of our African statues. They were large, gangly and hard to ship so I decided to pack them in my airplane and personally deliver them to his front door.
A week later the two of us were chewing some finger cheeses and drinking wine beside his pool up Benedict Canyon, or wherever it was. It looked down on all of Hollywood, and I was impressed. The company and the view provided me with an enjoyable but fleeting sense of preeminence.
After a few minutes Michael went into his house for more wine, leaving me alone to wallow in the flourish of his opulence. Just then, a man wearing a low thread-count sweater, shorts, slosh slippers and rose-colored glasses entered through the gate and sat beside me on a bench. He also was wearing a rather toothy smile. We introduced ourselves but his name didn’t register, and talked for a few minutes. He seemed poised and confident, but otherwise ordinary. Suddenly he glanced at his watch, mumbled something, and departed with some urgency. How strange that was, I thought.
When Michael returned I mentioned what had happened. He said, “Yeah, I saw him through the window. That was Elton John, he lives in the neighborhood and comes by once in a while.”
When I told that story to my daughters they laughed, and reminded me of something I keep reminding myself, that I was born a hundred years too late. f