Tuesday, November 15, 2011

1. Love (not) at First Sight

By the age of 28, she had been financially successful. She had achieved all that she could, having risen up from rags to riches, thanks to her strong will, hard work and indestructible determination. However, something was missing from her life, and that something was love- an enduring love, someone to care for, someone who would protect her, someone to build a home with and someone to be the father of her children.

Lucille was going to New York City, and she was told by the studio head to be sure to catch the musical named Too Many Girls on Broadway, because she might be given a starring role in the film version later on. However, she had missed the musical as she had a great fall while doing a stunt on ice for a movie which hurt her sacroliac. She had been warned against doing that stunt, but back then, she felt that she was indestructible. She spent her days in the hospital in New York recuperating from her injury and show business friends who visited her at the hospital told her that Too Many Girls was indeed a great hit, but the greatest hit was a 22 year old Cuban, Desi Arnaz. He was a charming, attractive, extremely talented and modest man and every women in the country had fallen for him. Lucy of course, wasn't impressed. She was someone who had to see it to believe it.

After recovering from her fall, Lucille finally saw the musical. Sure enough, she couldn't take her eyes off him throughout the entire musical...

"Then Desi opened his mouth and began talking in his own peculiar brand of broken English, and a great belly laugh burst out of me. Now it's hard to make me laugh. I observe, I smile, but when I'm really amused you can hear me a block away. Here was a stunning-looking male who was not only thrilling but funny. What a combination!"- Lucille Ball in her autobiography: Love, Lucy.

It is true that Lucy wasn't amused easily. She had the knack of knowing what was funny, and what would tickle people to death. She knew how to make people roar with laughter, but she seldom roared with laughter herself. There were times when even while joining in the laughter, she wasn't really amused. Isn't that amazing!

So you could imagine how intrigued she was with Desi. After 28 years of living, she finally found a potential someone who could make her laugh, laugh with no restrictions, laugh with no worrying about what was going to happen next.

Lucy went back to Hollywood, and was disappointed because she did not get the chance to be introduced to this Cuban musical talent she would later co-star with. It would be months before the director of Too Many Girls would be available to do the film version, and in the meantime, Lucy was given the starring role in a movie called Dance, Girl, Dance. Her role in the movie was a tough stripteaser in a burlesque club who often spoke sardonic remarks that were humorous in a twisted way.

One day after a few months, she was filming a scene where she had just fought with her friend from the movie and her lover had supposedly punched her. You could imagine her outfit: thick make-up, long sexy gold dress, hair down and wild, with a fake black eye.

That was how she looked like when she walked into the meeting room full of cast members, including Desi Arnaz, to say hello to the director of Too Many Girls, Mr. George Abbott. Now the cast members were all disconcerted as they looked at her from the top of her head to her toes. The role that Miss Lucille Ball was to play in the upcoming movie was an ingenue, but as Desi Arnaz described, "she looked like a two-dollar whore who had been badly beaten by her pimp, with her hair all over her face and a black eye, and she was dressed in a cheap costume". How could she play an ingenue?!

(Meaning of an ingenue: an innocent and unsophisticated young woman, according to Oxford. Or according to Desi Arnaz, an ingenue "is usually a very delicate, blond, blue-eyed girl with an innocent, virginal quality about her.")

After Lucille left, Desi immediately asked the director who the hell that woman was.

Mr Abbott answered, "that's the girl who is going to play the ingenue. That's Lucille Ball."

"That's Lucille Ball and she's gonna do the ingenue thing? You gotta be kidding," Desi's voice dripped with sarcasm and disbelief.

"Well, now, wait a minute. She was in makeup for something else right now."

"I think you've blown your top, George.There is no way they can change her back to look like an ingenue. No way."

After Lucille's shooting, she was dressed casually in tight slacks and a yellow sweater, with all traces of stage make-up removed. She had tied her blond hair neatly with a feminine bow. That was how she looked like when she walked back to the meeting room while Desi was rehearsing a song with his piano player.

Desi said to the piano player "Man, what a hunk of woman!"

His piano player was puzzled. "You met her today," he said.

"No, I never met her. I've never seen her before."

"That's Lucille Ball," his piano player said.

"THAT'S LUCILLE BALL?! You gotta be kidding. She sure doesn't look anything like she did this morning."

Desi was mesmerized. He was mesmerized, hook, line and sinker.

"Hello," Lucille said as she walked up to Desi. Of course she knew who he was; she had waited long enough to meet him, since she saw him perform back at New York.

Desi was still shocked and unsure. "Miss Ball?"

"Why don't you call me Lucille and I'll call you Dizzy."

"Okay, Lucille, but it's not Dizzy."

"Oh? How do you say it, Daisy?"

"No, Daisy is a flower. It's Desi, D-E-S-I."

Of course, he used the cheesiest line in history to invite her to dinner ("Would you like me to teach you how to Rumba? It may come in handy for your part in the movie."). She accepted.

He preferred the demure Lucille to the glamorous one, and that was the sweetest thing one could expect from a man.
They went to a nightclub, but instead of joining the conga line with the rest, they danced a while and then sat at a quiet corner and just talked and talked. They were in their own world and instant sparks flew. It was obvious even to the rest of their friends that it was love at first sight. Lucille, however, begged to differ: "It wasn't love at first sight. It took me full 5 minutes." She added on that "there was only one thing better than looking at Desi, and that was talking to him."
The night ended innocently. He drove her home, she thanked him for a wonderful evening and they said good night. 

Friends of Lucille warned her against him, that he was too young and was a playboy, but it was too late. She had fallen completely and irrevocably in love with him, and there was no turning back...

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