Confessions of a Pioneer Woman: I Kissed James Garner in an Elevator
Apr 10, 2007
I Kissed James Garner in an Elevator
You heard me. I was a week into my freshman year at U.S.C. and was deep into exploring The City of Angels with Collin, my cute boyfriend who later turned out to be gay. And when I say "exploring," I mean exploring. School hadn't even started yet and already we'd been to the beach in Malibu, walked the Sunset Strip, shopped on Rodeo Drive, and eaten at every "it" restaurant we could find.
The night before school started, Collin and I stopped off at a hotel somewhere in Greater Los Angeles. We wanted to have a drink, you see, and continue to revel in our delicious new eighteen-year-old independence. The hotel had a top-floor bar, so Collin and I stopped giggling and frolicking long enough to push the "up" button and wait for the doors to open.
And when they did, I saw James Garner standing there. James Garner, in all his Rockford Files glory.
And yes, I know James Garner had a long, distinguished career way before he played Jim Rockford, but "The Rockford Files" was in my era and that's what I was watching when I first fell in love with his confident, swaggering manliness. James Garner is Jim Rockford, just like Arnold Schwarzenegger is the Terminator. It's just one of those eternal truths.
And there he was, standing a mere three feet in front of me. He was still every bit as appealing as I remembered him from the TV show. As he stepped off the elevator and Collin and I began to step on, I didn't even think about reining in my enthusiastic awe. "Oh my gosh," I sputtered. "JAMES GARNER???!!!???" I was blinded by the light of celebrity before me. My eyes were, I'm sure, the size of dinner plates and I'm fairly certain my pounding heart was visible, just like that cartoon character whose red heart comes thrusting out of its chest. I continued. "I just LOVE YOU!" I hadn't yet learned skills of subtelty.
By now Collin was in the elevator, frantically pushing the top-floor button so the doors would close and separate us not only from James Garner but from the abject embarrassment he was feeling over my complete lack of discretion. I was halfway in and the elevator doors about to close when James Garner reached into the elevator and pulled me off at the very last minute. The elevator closed and sent Collin on his merry way. "You stay down here with me, darlin'," James Garner said to me. I had seven coronary infarctions and my hiney completely inverted as I casually answered, "Um. Okay!" We stood in front of the elevator and chatted about where we were both from, what I was doing in Los Angeles, and what an unusually hot evening it was for southern California. A minute later, the elevator opened back up.
Collin's sweet little face---carrying just a hint of hostility---greeted me. "You comin' up?" he asked. James Garner gave me a little nudge. "Aww, you better get back on, sweetheart." But I didn't want to. I wanted to stay with James Garner. He was strong and handsome and much more like my dad than any of the U.S.C. boys I'd met so far. And though I was ready to be independent and grown up, I was homesick. And I missed my grandmother, at whose house I faithfully watched "The Rockford Files" during my blissful childhood in the seventies. She might as well have been standing there in front of me, too. James Garner, though a celebrity, was familiar to me. And secure. And steadfast. And really, really handsome.
I think James Garner sensed that I'd need a little coaxing to get back onto the elevator with my measly eighteen-year-old boyfriend and that if he didn't do something proactive, I'd stow away in the trunk of his Cadillac Seville and refuse to leave his yard. So James Garner gave me a bear hug from behind, escorted me onto the elevator, turned me around...and gave me a great big smack on the lips. And as he exited the elevator he turned, gave me a wink and said, "Goodbye, darlin'." And I fainted inside. And died seventeen times, too. It took me a long time to find Collin interesting after that. I'd looked into the face of Jim Rockford, and things had changed forever.
James Garner? Are you reading this? I'm pretty sure you think about me at least once a week. No, I think you do. No, you do; you just don't know it. I think that deep down you remember our time in the elevator as a moment in life that passed you by, a moment that could have turned into a lifelong love story if I hadn't been eighteen and my cute gay boyfriend hadn't been there to spoil all the fun. Oh? You were married back then? Oh. Never mind. 'Cause I don't want to go down in history as the person who came between James Garner and his wife. I've got a lot of laundry to do and I just don't need that one.
Goodbye forever, James Garner.
I love you,
P.S. Call me sometime!