My first love was Gilda Radner. I was fifteen when I fell for her and I fell hard. I never missed an SNL. Ever. I memorized all her skits word for word, verbatim.
Gilda was everything I wanted to be and everything I knew I never would be. She was skinny with that big mouth, soulful eyes and hungry look. She had all that wild-ass hair that curled every which way. She was funny, sure, but she had talent that went beyond that. She was original, one-of-a-kind, deliriously funny. She was Roseanna Roseannadanna, Lisa Lupner, Judy Miller, Baba Wawa and Emily Litella all rolled into one.
I even went to New York to see her. She lived in that one building that John Lennon got shot outside of and where Rosemary’s Baby was filmed. I didn’t stalk her there, but I did stay at the Edison Hotel which was directly across the street from where she was starring in The Lunch Hour, the Broadway play she was doing with Sam Waterston.
And one day, miracle of miracles, I got to meet my beloved Gilda. I hung out the second story window of my dingy hotel room, cupped my hands around my mouth like a megaphone and shouted, “Gilda! I love you!”
She had just come out of the theatre and was walking toward her baby blue limo. She heard me yell and looked up toward my window. I waved at her and shouted again, “I love you, Gilda!”
She threw back her head, laughed and waved back at me. “I love you, too!” she said.
I watched her ride away in that baby blue limo and knew there wasn’t another woman who would ever touch me like she did.
Several years later she was dead.
I cried and cried. I cussed Gene Wilder. Had it been me she had married instead of him, she would still be alive. Somehow, some way, I would have shielded her from the ugly crazed killer called Cancer.
Now when I think of Gilda, when I see a picture of her, when I see a re-run of SNL, when I see somebody mimic Roseanne Roseannadanna, my heart is filled with a more mellow love. It tastes sweeter, somehow, since her death. I wonder if our paths would have crossed again had she lived longer.
Oh, I know she probably wouldn’t have reciprocated my romantic, idealized love. But maybe she would’ve been my friend. Maybe we would have sipped lattes and exchanged jokes. She could have bitched about the agony of staying skinny and I would’ve bitched about quitting smoking and we would’ve laughed.
We would’ve laughed a lot.
Gilda was my first love. And there’s nothing ever quite as sweet as an unrequited love, is there?
A sweet & steamy short story
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