Wednesday, February 23, 2011
One Wicked Dame
As Penny told it, she was thrown out of every English boarding school she attended and was expelled from England by her father after an affair with a married man. Poor girl, he sent her to the Bahamas. The Bahamas have never recovered!
Penny managed to leave quite a wake as she sailed through life, actually powerboating was more her style. Powerboating as in grand motor yachts. She rubbed elbows and other things with the rich and famous. She called Sir Laurence Olivier and Gregory Peck "Larry" and "Greg". And she loved to tell the story of when she was an assistant on the set of James Bond's Thunderball and the script girl refused to deliver the daily script to Sean Connery so Penny had to do it. When Sir Sean answered the door she admonished him, "For God's sake, put some clothes on, Sean." She later lived with or married (I was never sure) Rick Van Nutter, who played Felix Leiter in Thunderball. Penny would proudly admit that she'd f*#&'d a lot of men and, very well if she had to say so herself. All of this relayed in her very proper upper crust British accent. She loved men, all men, but barely tolerated women, including me, she was quick to inform. She only tolerated me because she loved the cap'n and she was forced to bear me because I didn't trust her alone with him. LOL
She also loved her scotch but she never lost her dignity. You never saw her unless she was meticulously, sometimes outrageously dressed. A large hat adorned with feathers or a turban was standard luncheon outfit accessories. And, of course, always the dramatic round black glasses that dominated her face.
I spent four days during a hurricane with her and several other people in a grand house owned by another good friend. It was one hell of a hurricane party but believe me you don't want to be stranded with a bunch of drunks during a hurricane when the alcohol runs out. We finally formed a brigade and broke into the house next door and raided their liquor cabinet. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
We went to visit Penny a year ago and spent the afternoon having sundowners on her deck overlooking the Sea of Abaco, way before and way after the sun went down. She was getting worried about what would become of her, she had no family to speak of. We called her a couple of months ago and she didn't seem to recall who we were but then she might have just come back from an evening at the Jib Room, her favorite drinking establishment just a few steps from her door.
She died yesterday in Nassau, Bahamas.
We're going to miss you, Pen-a-lope. Heaven has got to be a lot livelier place with you in it. If you made it there, you wicked old dame.