Brush With Greatness: Bette, Broadway and Bloomingdales
By Rachel Braun Scherl
Posted: 07/01/2013 12:31 pm
The other night I saw, I’ll Eat You Last, the one-woman show starring Bette Midler. In the 90-minute monologue, Bette Midler brilliantly portrays the spirit, the grit and the brashness of legendary Hollywood agent, Sue Mengers. Ms. Mengers, agent to the biggest stars of the ’70s could make or break a star and a career. While I had heard of her, I really went to the show to see Bette Midler.
I have always loved Bette (we are on a pretend first name basis) since my sister introduced me to her music when I was a teenager. The Divine Miss M could and still does grab an audience and bring them in. I actually think of us as friends or as Wendy Williams would say, “a friend in my head.” Our “friendship” grew over the years for two main reasons — first, Beaches, the unforgettable female friendship movie, always effective for a good cry. And secondly, and maybe even more importantly, a boy I had a secret crush on in college used to call me, “Bette” across the quad, because he said I reminded him of Bette. Let me just be clear, to my dismay, we actually share very few traits in common. While we both have red hair (and hers is blonde right now) and a somewhat booming voice. I am at least 5 inches taller. And unlike Bette, I haven’t recorded 13 albums, had hit singles, starred in movies, won Golden Globes, Emmy’s, Grammy’s, an honorary Tony and Oscar nominations, appeared on Seinfeld, or headlined a show in Vegas. I can barely carry a tune let alone a song or movie.
So anyway, the other night as we are waiting for the show to start, I spot Nicole Kidman, the Hollywood star (and Bette’s co-star in the 2004 Stepford Wives), and her husband, Keith Urban. Nicole glided into the theather in all of her regal elegance, ethereal beauty, flawless skin, model figure, really high heels, tenderly holding her handsome, stylish, talented husband’s hand. They were all smiles, warmly greeting the people they knew sitting near them. And all of the sudden, my synapses connected.
As I sat reminiscing about Bette and reveling in my brush with celebrity greatness (okay I was about 10 rows behind her), I remembered my Nicole Kidman moment in a Bloomingdales in New Jersey at least 15 years ago. No, Nicole Kidman wasn’t behind me returning some bedding. As I stood in line (I was at most 32 at the time of this event) behind 2 much older women (I was at most 32 at the time of this event), let’s say late ’70s, who were very sweet and chatty. I remember one of the women admired my pants suit and then said a sentence that will live in my mind forever… drum roll please: “Does anyone tell you that you remind them of Nicole Kidman.”
I took a big gulping breath to make sure that I didn’t pass out. And just in case you think I have lost touch with reality, I answered back, “I can’t imagine what on my person reminds you of Nicole Kidman, but I will never forget you.” We said goodbye, and I did what any person who looks nothing like Nicole Kidman (not even in her wildest dreams) does when someone says something like that. I immediately called my sister and repeated the whole story. We laughed about the absurdity of the comparison between this magnificent creature and myself.
And then, my older sister gave me the kind of supportive words and sage advice that one would expect from an older sister as she said, and I quote, “Oh, I totally get it. You both have teeth.” And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen (listen for sound of deflating self-esteem in the background). I would love to say that I met Nicole that night (that she saw some of herself in my face as we met), that I went backstage with her to meet Bette, told them my tales from long ago, and we all made plans to have lunch after the July 4th holiday weekend. But ’twas not to be. On a beautiful summer night in late June 2013, with Bette, Broadway and Bloomies on my mind, I headed out of the theater back to my non-celebrity life. Curtain falls. The end.