Excerpts from book
Later that afternoon, I was leaving the motel to look for an apartment
when I passed a young man in the lobby with a handsome, familiar face.
We exchanged smiles but I couldn’t place him, and it drove me crazy all day.
On my way back in I saw him again, and this time he stopped me
and introduced himself as Gary Loizzo of the American Breed. He’d recognized
me from Tony Orlando’s birthday party. His band had recently
released their single “Bend Me, Shape Me,” which was a massive hit.
Gary’s looks were about as different from Brian Hyland’s as possible,
which was fine with me. Brian’s eyes were bright and sweet, and Gary’s
were dark and enigmatic, but his smile was warm and it put me at ease.
When he asked me if I’d like to come along with him to a recording session
that night with his band, I was thrilled.
The first person we passed walking into the studio was the teen idol
of teen idols, the man who made all the girls swoon, Frankie Avalon!
Gary knew him, of course, so he stopped and causally introduced me.
“Kathalynn, this is Frankie.”
“Oh my God,” I blurted out before I could filter my gush, “I love
you—I mean, I’m really happy to meet you.”
They both broke out in laughter.
“Kathalynn, it’s a pleasure to meet you too,” Frankie said, rescuing me
from further embarrassment.
After the session, Gary and I returned to the motel. When we reached
the place where I would go left to my room, he asked me if I’d like to
join him for a while in his room. This time I had some idea of what he
probably had in mind. I stopped and considered a minute, and then I said
to myself, Well, if it can’t be Brian, it may as well be him.
Gary opened the door, and before I could step through he scooped me
into his arms and carried me like a new bride across the room to the bed.
Then he climbed in beside me, but when he leaned in for a kiss I became
very aware that I needed the bathroom. I awkwardly wriggled out of the
romantic moment and excused myself.
Okay, I told myself, this is it. I slowly and mechanically removed
everything but my underwear and assessed my reflection. As usual, I
didn’t like what I saw, an ungainly, flat-chested virgin in dorky cotton
panties. I wrapped myself in one of those skimpy motel bath towels and
cracked open the door.
Gary had taken this opportunity to make himself comfortable. He
lay stark naked on top of the bed, looking completely calm, as if he did
this sort of thing all the time. I dashed over to the bed and quickly dived
under the covers.
Taking in Gary’s nude body, I became anxious. I just didn’t know
where to put my eyes. At my request he turned off the lights and then
slid up beside me and went in again for that kiss. My lips involuntarily
seized into something like steel against his. Gary pulled away and looked
at me intently.
“You’re a virgin, am I right?” God, was it that obvious?
“Yes,” I admitted.
“Right,” he said, moving away slowly. “I can’t do this.”
Relieved as I was not to have to go through with it, my familiar insecurities
came flooding in. Was there something wrong with me? Had I
turned him off?
But when I looked at him he didn’t seem the least bit disappointed
or disgusted; in fact, he was smiling. And then, almost as if in response
to the questions in my eyes he said gently, “Look, I like you. But I can’t
be your first. Can I show you something?” He pointed at his semi-erect
penis. “See this? This means I’m turned on by you and could go inside
you if we were going to do that, which we aren’t.”
I was speechless. A week ago I’d been home in Maryland with a head
full of Disney-esque fantasies about romance, and Hollywood was just
a word. Today I was in a motel on Sunset Boulevard receiving a tutorial
on sex from the lead singer of the American Breed. I guess that’s what
happens in California.
The Master resembled a storybook image of God, the only difference being that he was seated on the floor and not a cloud. He had a long white beard, a gentle smile, and eyes full of wisdom as though they saw all. I looked about the space, and except for a small shrine in the center the room was bare of decor. I joined the guru on the floor, and a man whose face was painted more brightly than his clothing served us a series of unidentifiable, delicious dishes.
After the meal, the Master turned to me and asked why I had come to him. On the spot, I asked the first question that came to mind: “In this life, is there destiny, or do we have choice?”
He looked at me closely as I prepared myself for the profound response sure to issue from his holy lips.
“It depends!” he said.
“It depends!” he repeated.
And suddenly we burst simultaneously into fits of laughter. Our laughter spread through the group, breaking the language barrier. When I finally calmed down and could breathe again, the significance of that seemingly silly answer took hold. My entire life began to make sense in those two words: It depends. I started to see where my life had consisted of clusters of moments both painful and blissful and how it did in fact all depend—sometimes on my choices, sometimes on the force of a power that placed me in the right places at the most perfect times.
I reached into my purse and pulled out a cigarette. Before I could find my matches, Elvis was at my side with a silver lighter. His blue eyes bore through my soul as he moved in very close to me and provided me with a flickering flame. He pulled the lighter back, looked deeply into my eyes, and asked softly, “Do you still think you’re too young?”
IFrom my new apartment I could walk to the Whisky A Go-Go nightclub and thrill to see dazzling movie stars mingling with regular people.Where else in the world could you find yourself sitting beside Jim Morrison and not even realize who it had been until hours later?
After dinner Frank invited me to the Daisy, a members-only nightclub in Beverly Hills. Showing up at a club with Frank Sinatra was like showing up in church with Jesus Christ himself, only cooler. He commanded the attention of literally everyone yet managed to stay completely attentive to me.
That evening I went out to meet some friends for dinner, and when I returned home around ten o’clock I noticed that Mark Chapman was still there talking to José, our doorman. Again, I didn’t think anything of it because it was common for fans to gather around the building’s entrance in hopes of catching a glimpse of their idol. I said hello to José and proceeded through the archway into the courtyard and into my apartment. After paying the babysitter, I changed into my pajamas, climbed into bed, and turned off the lights. I had just closed my eyes when the sound of three gunshots jolted me out of bed. My first thought was that someone was shooting at the building.
The shots were coming from the direction of the courtyard, which my twins’ bedroom overlooked. I crawled into their room and pulled the two of them out of their cribs and onto the floor for safety. I moved over to the window, looked down, and saw two policemen hauling what looked like a body into the backseat of their car. Apparently, John was in such bad shape there was no time to wait for an ambulance. Just then my phone rang. I answered, and a voice said, “Somebody just shot John Lennon.” I had no idea who it was and was too shocked to ask. I put my sleeping babies back into their cribs, then threw on some clothes and headed down to the office to find out if it was true. John was already on his way to Roosevelt Hospital, where all my children had been born. I felt sick to my stomach when I saw a pool of blood on the ground right by the archway and then drops of blood on the stairs leading to the office. Many residents were standing in the office waiting for news of John. It didn’t take long before the hospital called and let us know John had died. Everyone was in shock and grief. Even some of the police were crying. The men in the office who saw the whole thing were so badly shaken that a neighbor kindly brought down some brandy to calm them. Everyone just kept asking each other if they were all right. It was surreal.
Every time I let a feeling go, my heart would lighten and my head would clear. The circumstances did not necessarily change, but once the veil of emotion was lifted, I could assess situations for what they were and find new ways of taking action to handle them effectively. Releasing like that recharged and replenished my energy so that I felt I could take on literally anything that came my way.
Most people have heard of finding God in prison or in a foxhole. I had to find God in Greenwich.
Greenwich, Connecticut, is essentially the Holy Grail for some, but for me it was a gilded cage in which I could hardly breathe, let alone fly. Greenwich was where Wall Street’s top dogs moved their families, where investment portfolios thrived and incomes staggered ever upward. For most people, the point of living in Greenwich was to surround yourself with the best—having your kids attend the best schools, belonging to the best clubs, vacationing in the best spots.
Hollywood, Manhattan, Greenwich—three very different, very separateworlds, all so far from the one I’d come from, but from where, as a child, I’d wished upon a star and envisioned a rather lofty future. Remarkably, many of those wishes were realized: I experienced the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the rich and diverse culture and spiritual/personal-growth community of New York. And then, in Greenwich, my life suddenly centered around shopping, entertaining, and country clubs. Wanting to feel part of the community, I got sucked right in.
Going straight to my surprisingly sleek and modern hotel, right across from the Mediterranean Sea, I somehow had not expected the vibrant, sparkling cosmopolitan White City of ’30s Bauhaus buildings. A broad promenade welcomed an active beach culture—volleyball, surfing, biking, the works. Jet-lagged yet too excited to stay put, I headed for the sea, slathered as usual in sunscreen on my fair skin and conditioner on my hair.
The beach was lovely and filled with fit and beautiful people. Immediately after I jumped in the water, a wave took hold and I went under, and as I came up I felt arms around me that belonged to an exquisitely formed, magnificently handsome young man with black hair and turquoise eyes, the very definition of Adonis. Oh my God, I thought, is this my personal welcome-blessing directly from the Holy Land? As he held me while wave after wave came over us, he looked into my eyes. “I’ve been watching since you came onto the beach,” he said smoothly, with an accent. “You are beautiful, and I want you.” Now, I’m no fool. I was in good condition for a woman of my age, but in my sixties I was certainly no Aphrodite—especially coated with all that sunscreen and conditioner—and adorable as he was, it was a bit late in the game for me to be taken in.
Extricating myself from his grip, I told him I was tired and needed to get out of the water and head back to my room. Might he join me? he asked. No, I said, I needed to rest. How about dinner? I refused, and when he wouldn’t take no for an answer I agreed to meet him at the same time on the beach the following day.
I avoided the beach—and my persistent Adonis—until late afternoon, but once I was there I was prey to more circling young men seeking what I could only imagine was a sugar mommy. Seriously, I couldn’t have a swim without being hit on. Finally, I told the girl at the hotel desk that I was having this problem. Her answer: “Welcome to the Middle East, Ms. blond-haired, blue-eyed woman. Deal with it!”
As I sat on a bench across from a rock that marked the burial place of Jesus and where he had risen from the grave, I felt a cool calm come over me. My mind-chatter stopped and I was drained of all emotion. There was no hot rushing up and down my spine. No blissful feeling. No bright lights or color, no tears. Just infinite calm. Serenity and peace. I don’t know how long I sat there in stillness. Time was irrelevant. When I finally did move, my first thought was Don’t try to figure this out. No reasoning could explain this tranquility, this peace, what Philippians 4:7 calls “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”
The master teacher left me with this, his own greatest gift: “Remember, your mind is a beautiful servant, not your master. You have the ability to quiet it and direct it. When negative thoughts arise, and they will, you can let them go. When negative feelings arise, you can let them go. You are the master. Always remember this.”
Copyright © 2019 Kathalynn Turner Davis.