Last week, my husband and I were herding our children around Cross Creek – the quaint little town of Malibu – when we bumped into a friend of his.
Casper introduced us, “Catherine, you know P.J!” I looked at the friend vacantly. The friend added, “Yes, we worked together on a film!”
Help! Who was this person? Why could I never recognize people?! I thought, scanning wildly through my repertoire of work.
The friend seemed confused that I had so completely erased all memory of his existence. Casper could see that I was struggling – I had turned a deep shade of red. “Catherine – remember – SWIMSUIT!?”
Unbelievably, even the mention of the film that we supposedly shot together was not enough to jar my memory. I did remember the film – but not this actor!
“Ohhh! Really!?” I stammered, stalling for time, trying to decide if it would be kinder to pretend that I now remembered who he was.
Then I decided it would be better not to pretend – the last time I had attempted to, had resulted in a dire situation, where the particular person had asked me to tell him who his name was, and of course, I was stumped.
Casper kept repeating, “P.J! – Swimsuit!” Changing the emphasis each time to see if the inflection might activate a brain cell!
It didn’t work!
Who the hell goes by initials? I don’t know any P.J!
Someone, take me out of my misery!
Meanwhile, P.J’s girlfriend looked on, amused – she was obviously much too young to have suffered such humiliating senior moment memory lapses.
“Paul Johannson!” he finally said, hoping that his name would liberate me from my hell.
Paul joked, “Obviously, I must not have made much of an impression!” Thank God, he had a sense of humor!
I mumbled, “Oh, no, you don’t understand!…”
At this point, my gallant husband launched to my defense – only I’m not sure he did anything but make me appear even more idiotic!
(Casper speaking now)“P.J! This is nothing! When Catherine and I were first dating, I was filming Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp. She had flown to London to spend time with me. Johnny bumped into me on the way to the set, “Oh, you’re dating Catherine Oxenberg, right? Tell her I said hello!”I asked, “Oh, you know her?” “Yeah” Johnny replied. I was surprised because she had told me that she didn’t know him. I came back to my apartment and said “Johnny says hello! I thought you said you had never met him?” Now I was a little suspicious. I didn’t know her that well and I wondered if she might be hiding something!”Catherine was adamant, “No, I’ve never met him! He’s probably just doing that Hollywood thing!” The next day, I bumped into Johnny again, ”Catherine says she’s never met you and that you are just doing that Hollywood thing!” Johnny looked hurt, “She doesn’t remember that we spent a whole week end sitting next to each other umpiring tennis matches at The White House!? Who could forget that!? We even went on a date! – Oh, not THAT kind of date! – We went to some event together!” Later that evening, I repeated what Johnny had told me. Finally, Catherine’s memory kicked in! It was true, they did spend the weekend umpiring together and Aretha Franklin asked her to present an award at the Kennedy Center. She vaguely remembered Johnny asking her he could tag along. She didn’t think of it as a date! “
Casper looked at P.J, incredulously, “How could anyone forget Johnny Depp!?”
P.J shrugged his shoulders and smiled benignly, probably trying to remain as neutral as possible.
“He was just a kid!” I countered.
Casper looked at me like I was nuts. “What do you mean – just a kid!? – You guys are about the same age! “
He turned to P.J, “See – you are in good company!”
A day later, Casper and I were stocking up at Trader Joe’s. He came rushing down the aisle to alert me that he had seen Nia Peeples – who also starred in Swimsuit. This time he thought it prudent to warn me in advance – this way I would be prepared.
Thank goodness he did – because, sure enough, we bumped into each other at the register! And this time, for once, I didn’t come across as a complete fool!