Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Random Licks by Glenn Close

Did you know that Glenn Close is related to Marjorie Merriweather Post? She is a great dog lover and has her own blog, Random Licks. Here, she posts about another great dog lover, Lauren Bacall. Thanks Glenn!

It's a supremely daunting challenge to write an introduction to a woman who has been declared one of the American Film Institute's top 25 film legends of the century. So I'm not even going to try. In this era of sound bytes, spin and packaging, Lauren Bacall defies categorization. She is feline and ferocious, bawdy, beautiful and brilliant. She is my neighbor and friend, who happens to be totally in the thrall of her spectacular Papillion, Sophie. When I approached Ms. Bacall about doing a profile of her and Sophie, she told me that she wanted to be interviewed in person and invited me to her home in the venerable Dakota on New York's Central Park West, where I had the great pleasure of spending the afternoon with Sophie and her handmaiden, Lauren Bacall - surrounded by extraordinary art and artifacts, pictures of family and friends and evidence everywhere of an amazing life and career. It is an afternoon I will never forget. As fall starts creeping into the trees around Sheep Meadow, the Great Lawn and down the paths of Strawberry Fields, we are planning to walk our dogs together in the park. Or should I say they are planning to walk us.

Glenn Close: When and how did you become a dog lover?
LB: I was always a dog yearner. I didn't have a dog growing up in the city with a working mother. As an only child, I yearned for someone to talk to. When I was sixteen, we got a champagne-colored Cocker Spaniel and named him "Droopy". He was very male. From the first moment, he was very possessive of me. All my dogs have been possessive of me. We eventually mated Droopy and kept one of his girl puppies---Puddle. I went to Los Angeles for a screen test when I was eighteen years old. My mother followed me out later. The dogs came, too.

In LA, Droopy was killed by a hit-and-run driver. There was a place in the valley where a nutty woman had a funeral parlor for dogs. I went to pay my last respects to Droopy. All the dogs were there in open caskets. Droopy was resting his head and paws on a pillow. It was terrible.

Bogey and I had Boxers. We were married on Louis Bromfield's farm in Ohio. Louis had Boxers that would fight under the table at dinner. He gave us a week old Boxer puppy for a wedding present. We named him Harvey, after the invisible rabbit. Harvey was really smart. He knew he wasn't allowed to get on the furniture so he would only put two paws on at a time. He would sit between us if we had a fight. Harvey died six months after Bogey. I went to see him at the vet's and said goodbye. Five minutes after I got home, I was told that after I left, Harvey had eaten his dinner and died.

Join Glenn Close in Lauren Bacall's apartment to meet Sophie.

GC: I know that you are devoted to your Papillion, Sophie. If she were a human, what kind of car would she drive?
LB: A Mercedes coupe. A perfect two-seater: one seat for her and one for me.

GC: What is Sophie's pet peeve about you?
LB: She doesn't like it when I'm on the phone. She doesn't like to be made to leave the boudoir when she is all curled up. She doesn't like it when I don't get out of bed when she wants me to.

GC: What is your pet peeve about Sophie?
LB: She dictates. I'm her slave. She barks when I'm on the phone. She doesn't like it when my back is to her.

GC: What musical instrument would Sophie play if she could?
LB: A trumpet.

GC: What does Sophie think about cats?
LB: She doesn't like other animals, especially white dogs. She barks at every dog in the street. Every dog that sees her wants to kill her---Labs, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds. They think she is a snack.

GC: What excites Sophie the most?
LB: A diversion, like when my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren come over.

Also, she has a stuffed Shar Pei that she humps. After she goes for a walk, she runs into the bedroom and humps her Shar Pei. Then she has a long barking conversation with it.

She has her own chair with a cashmere throw on it. She always has to rest her head on a pillow or a stuffed animal. She loves soft toys. Her first love is her Shar Pei but she also has a soft pig, and some bears.

She loves the country. She will sit for hours at a drainpipe waiting for a chipmunk to come out. She also loves chasing squirrels.

GC: What is your favorite thing to do with Sophie?
LB: Snuggle. In the morning I have breakfast in the kitchen and I pick her up and hold her and her little body warms my chest and makes me feel so good. (Actually, she'd much rather be on a man's lap than a woman's.) She knows life is all about her. She's spoiled.

GC: What would be Sophie's favorite movie?
LB: Well...she doesn't watch television, but I think she would like Now Voyager. She would appreciate Bette Davis. She would be attuned to the hallowed moments.

GC: What is it about you that makes Sophie most proud?
LB: When she's just had her bath and looks beautiful and when she behaves well. But I still wouldn't want to cross her. I'm afraid of her!

GC: What is Sophie's idea of perfect happiness?
LB: To be in a gondola with me in Venice. Just as long as we're together.

GC: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
LB: When there is no one in the house and the phone stops ringing. (Of course, if it stopped altogether, I'd panic.) Happiness? I've tried the two-legged ones, and the four-legged ones win.