Thursday, February 01, 2007

Lunch With Ann and Molly


Last night when the phone rang and I saw that it was my mother calling, I knew what she wanted before I even picked it up. I had seen the news and knew what was on her mind. Immediately after I said hello, she told me to tell her the time I went to lunch with Ann and Molly.

Some people can go through their whole lives and not meet anyone famous or see something significant. For some reason my life sometimes seems like Forrest Gump. Yes, I work in an industry where I see celebrities and such, but those are not the people or the moments to which I am referring. I grew up middle class so important moments and people were not a part of the scenery of my life, but for some strange reason they just occur. The only time I actually tried to pay for the privilege of meeting someone was when I met Muhammad Ali at a Parkinson’s disease dinner. I paid a ridiculous sum of money to get my photo taken with him and then the photo did not develop properly. I met him, but there is no record of it and I think someone was trying to tell me something. I think a great deal of my run ins with people are as a result of all the traveling I do and have done. The long blind item I am working on is a result of some of those trips.

This however is a story that is not blind and would never want it to be blind. It happened a couple of years after law school. I was flying from LA to Austin and as I approached my gate there was a woman in a lovely pink Chanel suit with hair in a beehive 2 feet high. It was Ann Richards, the former Governor of Texas and one of my heroes. At the time we met, she was actually still the Governor, but was traveling alone.


It turns out we were not only on the same flight, but also sitting next to each other for the entire flight. As soon as I sat down, she said "tell me about yourself darling." She put me at ease and talked to me about this and that for the four hour flight. She was charming and funny and laughed really loud. At some point during the flight, she told me that if I wanted I could take her to lunch when we landed and she would even bring a friend. Not even thinking of saying no, I agreed. When we landed in Austin, the people in the airport treated her like the Queen and yet she just would keep talking to me and at the same time carry on conversations with everyone who came up to have a few words with her. It was amazing how many people she knew by name and how pleased they all were that she remembered them.

We went to this great Mexican restaurant and her friend was already waiting. Her friend was Molly Ivins. At that time Molly was really starting to make a name for herself nationally. It was about two years after her book Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? which was a national bestseller. I loved that book and had been reading her columns in Texas newspapers and magazines throughout my time in Texas. I was enthralled. It would have been wonderful to meet either of these women separately, but to meet both of them the same day and to be with them during a lunch was something I will always treasure. Over the next two hours I heard cussing, laughing, screaming, and some of the best stories about people and situations I have ever heard. Each was a natural storyteller and they knew everyone and where every skeleton was hid. I did not know half the people they were referring to, but it did not matter. As other customers would make their way to the table, the story they were in the process of sharing would inevitably end up including either the customer or someone the customer had mentioned. It was amazing. To make things even better, they were incredibly warm and caring people to me, a person they had just met. They asked me about my Texas experiences and life and I shared with them some stories and how I grew up and how my mom had a similar life. Molly actually knew of my mother, but did not know her. She had very flattering things to say about my mother, and I confessed that Molly Ivins was at the very top of my mother’s list of great people as well.

At the end of lunch, Molly asked for my mother’s address and phone number as well as mine. I did not think much of it at the time. For the remainder of her life, when Molly published a new book or at Christmas time or if she had run into me somewhere, she would handwrite my mother a letter just to keep in touch and to ask a question or two for which she was looking for an answer to some problem that my mother could solve.

I was always amazed that she could find the time no matter her schedule, or her illness to keep in touch with those that were close to her and those like my mother she knew primarily through correspondence. I saw Molly on the average of once a year at some function or other. She would always find time for me, and she expected me to have time for her as well. Believe me, that was not a chore. When I would see her on television or read something funny she wrote, I would always try and write it down so I could bring out my list when I saw her and let her know I was thinking of her. The last time I saw Molly was in late 2005 after her breast cancer came back. She was not worried and she said she had plenty left to say and was not going anywhere until she had said it all. In early 2006 it looked as if she had beat the cancer and I sent her an e-mail saying she had been right again.

This past Christmas she sent my mother a letter and did not mention that her cancer was back again. It was not until a few weeks later that we heard that news. When we learned she was fighting cancer again, we both sent her e-mails, but there was no reply. I know she had a chance to read them and I hope they made her smile.

My mother met Molly a few times, but the only time they were going to meet for lunch, something came up as is often the case. They thought they would have the chance again soon, but never did. My mom never got that lunch with Molly so last night I was happy to tell her about the time I did.

27 comments:

hez said...

If I have even one iota of the impact that either Ann or Molly had on the world, I will consider myself extremely lucky. Both women have always been favourites of mine, as well.

Thanks for the story. Honestly, I come here as much for this kind of stuff as the gossip.

You're awesome, Ent. Your mom did a good job on you.

Flyover Accountant said...

I think lunch with those two sounds like a little slice of heaven. I love Molly's books.

Much as I enjoy reading about all your run-ins with celebrities, your lunch story beats them all.

brendalove@gmail.com said...

This is a wonderful tribute.

Anonymous said...

Your LAMEST story ever!!!!!

Also, you MUST be old because I don't know who these women are!!!

Barbara Jean

hez said...

Barbara Jean (and your five exclamation points!)...

Why don't you have a nice popsicle and watch some cartoons while the grown-ups talk?

Anonymous said...

Great story, thanks for sharing it.
:)

JeeezeLouise said...

See, you've gone and done it again, EL. Much more of this, and I'm going to start thinking lawyers are actually human.

That was a great story, thanks for sharing. Your mom must have been so proud every time she got a letter from Molly. And Molly did something that is all too rare these days - actually handwriting letters.

regards

P.S. Barbara Jean, have you ever read a newspaper?

P.P.S. hahahahahahaha Hez

Anonymous said...

What a lovely story!
And not only because of the warm, fuzzy feeling it gives you of how these two women are larger than life but also because of the lessons of to be learned here. The first: Networking -- remembering people's names, following up even after they are out of your life for a long time, bringing people together. The second: Being a good person -- being warm, caring, showing interest in the people you meet and know.
This story also spoke volumes about you! -- in a nice way.
Thank you for sharing. It was wonderful.

Kristi said...

Great story- I really enjoyed "Shrub" and the passion she brought to her writing. I loved her frank candor and tell-it-like-it-is-from-my-point-of-view take on the political landscape. I like people that speak (and write) their minds, not coddle to the "yes men" mentality that so many of these political pundits subscribe to, and she seemed like one of them.

JeeezeLouise said...

Anon @ 11:55

Absolutely right about networking. I used to do accounting (and payroll) for a local technology company. One day I got a call from a guy now living in Chicago, who needed some confidential information which I would first have to clear with my boss, the company owner. I absolutely had no recall whatever of this person, so I went to my boss, G, and asked if he knew who it was.

Of course, he knew who it was ... the guy had interned with us for 6 weeks nearly 8 years previously.

That ability to connect and remember people is probably a big part of how G was able to start a small business in his garage and sell it 28 years later for $25 million. Everyone he ever met in his life was important and worth remembering.

regards

drcocks said...

What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing your story. When most of us become so bored and jaded by the antics of these self absorbed celebrities, it is nice to be reminded that there are interesting,wonderful human beings who really do make a difference.

Anonymous said...

That was a great story and sorry, but Babara Jean, you'e a turd. As a NATIVE Texan, I'm going to miss Ann and Molly, they told it like it was, didn't bite their tongues. Somehow, I think they're cracking God up right now in the heavens, and all of them are shaking their heads at the mess we'll have to contend with for years and years to come. 43, you should have listened to 41.

Rubie said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend.

Vera said...

Oh ET-what a gift to share with us! Thank you so much-I LOVED those two women! I have never recovered from the shock of Ann Richards being forced out with a 70% approval rating! Molly & Ann will live on in our hearts, but for you to have had that magical day! You were blessed as I'm sure you know.I am beginning to wonder if your Mom is a friend of mine...
my husband & I are 5th generation Texas Ranchers...don't worry. If I figure it out I'm not telling.

Vera said...

Oh ET-what a gift to share with us! Thank you so much-I LOVED those two women! I have never recovered from the shock of Ann Richards being forced out with a 70% approval rating! Molly & Ann will live on in our hearts, but for you to have had that magical day! You were blessed as I'm sure you know.I am beginning to wonder if your Mom is a friend of mine...
my husband & I are 5th generation Texas Ranchers...don't worry. If I figure it out I'm not telling.

Libby said...

Just when I thought you couldn't get any cooler--there you go! Thanks so much for sharing--I needed it on a crappy day like today. And your mother sounds like a true gem! You're a lucky man, Enty!

Vienna Mom said...

Oh, EL. You are a sweetie - what a wonderful tribute to Ann and Molly -- and to your mom, who obviously raised you very well.

Bix said...

That was a poignant story.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your story. What a lovely legacy these two amazing women have left. And your mother must be wonderful too.

Thanks for the website and the stories.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. I'm shocked. Molly was my favorite columnist. She called out everyone and was never afraid to say anything. I'm not surprised she was so kind, it shone through in her writing. She will be missed by this reader.
~ Stacey

Anonymous said...

Two wonderful women who touched many lives and were more than deserving of such an eloquent tribute.

Are you sure you're an attorney? You seem too human to be categorized with such vermin.

Virgo74 said...

I am sorry to hear about your loss. What a good story.

10:05pm- I have to agree with you. ENTL, you are too human to be an attorney.

radiohogirl said...

EL
Wow, I teared up on this one. Incredibly touching, insirational, moving, sad, funny and motivational.
Not only a wonderful story to share about 2 GREAT women; but a story that shines a light on family and friendships and thier importance. You're mom def has a lot to be proud of as do you I'm sure of her.
Great reminder to all that even though we do get really busy, we need to try very hard to make time (even just 20 minutes) for coffee or lunch or to yes write a quick letter with/for those who are special and important in our lives.

Deanna said...

Best reason ever for reading this blog. Thank you for the tribute to 2 amazing women...

Anonymous said...

forgive barbara jean, she just weened herself of spongebob squarepants just last week.

Jem said...

Awwwww.

Jeannette Smyth said...

better late than never. this is beautiful, and why i will love you, and believe in you, forever. two-foot beehives all around. xoxo