[A little something light after all that heavy reading about war, revolution and loss….]
I wasn’t there. I wouldn’t dream of driving across dreaded Route 1 to the Hyatt Regency to squeeze myself into a sold-out event sponsored by Princeton Healthcare System and attended by more than 1,000 people. But I did avidly consume a report of the occasion by one Jennifer Kohlhepp (who I do not know) for the May 9, 2014 issue of “The Princeton Packet,” a throw-away town paper that usually goes straight from our front lawn into the recyclable garbage. I suspect the report was written as local “news.” I devoured it as celebrity gossip, to which I’m never averse as long as (a) I know the name of the celebrity it’s about; and (b) it’s free reading.
Knowing who celebrity gossip is about isn’t as easy as it used to be at the time I was a more au courant viewer of movies and television. These days, when I no longer have exhausting ten-hour work days to recover from, I almost never watch the junk that passes for television entertainment. As a result, I couldn’t tell you anything about those vapid-looking youngsters on the pages of “People Magazine” — which I idly peruse (for free) while waiting in line at the local supermarket to check out with my month’s supply of paper towels, toilet paper and like that.
But Diane Keaton? She’s 68. I knew her (in a manner of speaking) when. What’s more, the reason for her appearance in these parts is that she’s written a book, recently published, called “Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty” — which Jennifer Kohlhepp has given me to understand is right up the alley of this blog: a memoir of thirteen stories that explore life, beauty and aging in a world obsessed with appearances, “according to Ms. Keaton.”
I will make the not particularly rash assumption that you too did not attend the event, and that you might even be mildly interested in learning what this usually pleasant and unpretentious movie star had to offer from the podium at the Hyatt Regency on the subject of getting old. (Especially if you have nothing better to do with three minutes or so.) So without more ado, I offer you snippets from Ms. Kohlhepp’s account of the proceedings. [With a few asides from me within brackets.]
Ms. Keaton said she would like to ask her contemporaries if they look in the mirror, sigh and ask themselves what old age is for — why the liver spots, wrinkles, hair turning color, vocal cords changing, diminished eyesight, and reduced mental and cognitive thinking. [Me butting in about this last bit: “Oh yeah? Who sez?”]
“On the bonus side, I’ve become friends with some of my business contemporaries,” Ms. Keaton said. “One is Jack Nicholson. When I first met Jack Nicholson it was not possible to be his friend … I didn’t want to be his friend.”
After they filmed “Something’s Gotta Give,” the two became good pals, with Ms. Keaton going to his ranch once a month for lunch, she said. She then read a letter she wrote to him about “looking out for him” and “having his back.” [Me again: Is he infirm? Has something happened to him that I’ve missed?]
Later she focused on her relationship with Woody Allen. The duo still walks through New York City like they used to when they were young, “but not holding hands,” Ms. Keaton said.
One of the last times they met in the city, she said, “He looked at me with a really long gaze and mentioned I had a kind of beauty that required a beekeeper’s hat.” [Me: Is that a friend?]
In grappling with getting old, the self-proclaimed baby boomer said she has learned that 42 percent of her generation are extending retirement and 25% are not retiring. Her research has also determined that she has a life expectancy of 86.
“I’m going to try my best to make the most of these 18 years,” she said. “Being old is a gut leveling experience. I’m in preparation for the incomprehensible … end zone of life. I’m going to deepen my laugh lines and enjoy the underrated beauty of humanity….”
Ms. Keaton ended her talk saying, “One thing resonates … old is gold.”
Participants had the opportunity to ask Ms. Keaton questions through a moderator. In answering, she said she would never return to Broadway because she doesn’t like performing in front of real people. She also said she was the only person in the original cast of “Hair” who wouldn’t take her clothes off.
“Now that I’m older, I would love to take my clothes off, if you only ask me,” Ms. Keaton said. [Me: She’s got to be kidding! Or else she’s in unbelievable shape! An aging female friend and I once agreed that if we were ever to start in again with a new man (and without clothes), it would have to be in the semi-dark and missionary position. That way all the loose bits would hang down and out of sight of the one on top.]
Her greatest challenge as a woman has been raising two children at “a late age in life” and her greatest enjoyment in being an actress was “kissing all those men.”
On dating Warren Beatty, she said, “It was good.”
When asked what destination she has on her bucket list, she said “Heaven.” [She’s evidently a double optimist.]
In answering the final question, Ms. Keaton said, “Laughter is just everything.”
Well, there you have it. Now you don’t have to read the book. And aren’t you glad you missed going? I bet she wishes she could have missed going, too. If only churning out a book didn’t mean you also had to promote it…..