On Monday last week, walking along the streets between, I met Charlie pushing a baby carriage with her luggage stored under a blanket on top. Charlie wears beautiful clothes, speaks in a wonderful voice, indeed she used to be a professional singer. As she will tell you, she used to be a lot of things impressive and accomplished, a manager of a technology company that invented the operating system for telephone calling cards, married into one of the richest families in California, a registered seer (licence fee $250 a year from the city of Los Angeles I learned yesterday), and a clothing designer (she's made many of the beautiful clothes she wears). But she got sick a year and a half ago, was robbed and attacked, and is now afraid, as she says, to be within four walls.
In case you haven't been there, being in Beverly Hills is a real experience. It is a rich place, but that is not its distinction. Imagine a doll's house inhabited by dolls whose faces have partially melted. Money can be used as a symbol of power to live safely, but youth is the even more important symbol of the power to live at all. Live for money and you can't avoid trying to hold onto the idea and symbols of youth. In Beverly Hills that means plastic surgery.
Now this is a great strain on visitors just passing through. We wonder why no one else seems to notice that these people are grotesque. They are everywhere.
And then there is Charlie, about my age, and beautiful. She wanted me to help her write down her ideas for a children's television program. They are good ideas. She has the costumes and stage furniture picked out from Beverly Hills showrooms, who she says are talking about working with her. In fact, she took me with her to visit them. She also has several producers interested. They are waiting for more detailed plans. So I write down on my computer a one page outline, and we walk over to the Beverly Hills library to print five copies.
I tell her I can't do more for her. I am worried about her. She knows my story too, says that maybe working with her on the TV program will get my life going in a more reasonable way. She says I need family, and now I have her.