Back in 1971, I went to see a film on Lankershim Blvd. by myself one balmy Valley evening. My parents had lost their split-level in Reseda due to my daddy’s gold-mining ways, and we had to move into a sad small apartment off Victory in North Hollywood. I had heard groovy things about this movie, and settled into my seat, excited.  Within minutes I jumped to my feet and rushed to the pay phone in the lobby. I hated to miss even a few moments of this stunning experience, but I had to let someone know I had just seen the future.

“Mom!” I yelled into the receiver, “What s it? Are you OK?” she responded.

 “Yes, yes, I just have to tell someone! There’s a boy in this movie that I am going to meet! I am going to know this actor! I just feel it!”

My mom sighed.  She had heard these kinds of pronouncements from me before.  I could see her shaking her head, smiling,

 “That’s nice, dear.”

Cut to last night: 38 years later. This time I am invited to an Academy screening of the same beloved film.  My date is my sweet and charming ex, Jimmy ‘Thrill’ Quill. The Academy is honoring one of the great directors, the quirky, fearless wildman, Hal Ashby. The lights go down after a panel of hotshots venerate the late filmmaker, and once again I am transfixed by the depth, daring  and dazzling insight of the cinematic glory that is Harold & Maude. Beyond the May-December aspect, (which I can totally relate to) I am touched all over again by the cosmic truths that bubble out of Ruth Gordon’s guru-lady, Maude. She’s turning 80 and has decided it’s time to leave the planet, but not before transforming Bud Cort’s Harold from a suicidal tragedy case to a fellow with hope and spunk.

Here are a few of my fave insights:

Harold: Maude. 
Maude: Hmm? 
Harold: Do you pray? 
Maude: Pray? No. I communicate. 
Harold: With God? 
Maude: With life.

Maude: Vice, Virtue. It’s best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much life. Aim above morality. If you apply that to life, then you’re bound to live life fully. 
 Harold,everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can’t let the world judge you too much. 

Maude: A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life. Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE!
Maude:  “Well if some people get upset because they feel they have a hold on some things, I’m just acting as a gentle reminder, here today, gone tomorrow so don’t get attached to things. Now with that in mind I don’t mind collecting things. I’ve collected quite a lot of stuff in my time. Yeah, this is all memorabilia — but it’s incidental, not integral, if you know what I mean.”

Haha, I collect a lot of memorabilia myself, and I suppose my knickknacks are incidental and not integral, but I sure do enjoy looking at my 40s lady ceramic wall heads and fairytale silhouettes. And Jesus Glow-in-the-Darks, and vintage Disney allsorts…

Anyway…it was a fab-gear evening. And I was absolutely correct 38 years ago. A few weeks after first seeing H&M, I walked into a party in Malibu for my piano-playing pal, Jobriath, and there was Bud Cort, in all his wide-eyed adorable glory. We instantly hit it off and remain great friends to this very day. He invited me to the screening last night, titillating me with a ‘surprise’ performance. It had to be Cat Stevens…er…Yusaf, right? He was humble and brilliant, singing a few tunes from the all-important soundtrack to a standing O. I think that particular soundtrack heralded a shift in movie music, in that the songs were like another character in the film…

The Big Moment came after the screening when the curtains closed and Bud Cort was announced. It was perfect timing, as everyone had just been entranced by his magnificent performance (The way he looks at Maude, with such astonishing love), and he regaled the capacity star-studded masses with quips, quotes and behind-the scenes tales of the making of the film. It was awesome to feel the appreciation for him wafting all around.

At the meet & greet I ran into one of my former beaus, Jon Voight, and we exchanged brief pleasantries. He once told me I reminded him too much of his daughter, and I was secretly chuffed. I chit-chatted with Cameron Crowe and he introduced me to Judd Apatow, Mr. Great Big Right Now. He was a charmer. After the to-do, Bud took a few of his pals to Canter’s Deli where we yukked it up deep into the night. I am truly grateful for my longtime friendship with Mr. Cort.

All those decades ago I knew I’d be spending evenings like this with him. You have to listen to that small still voice, dolls.  It tells you the truth.  As Maude says, Reach out. Take a chance. get hurt even. L-I-V-E. LIVE!

5 Responses to “L-I-V-E!”

  1. Tiwanna Ellerbe Says:

    Hello Pamela!

    Thanks for sharing the events of a wonderful event!! As a huge fan of your friend, Mr. Cort, and his classic film, “Harold and Maude,” your writing made me feel as if I was there.

    ~~Tiwanna E.

  2. v Says:

    that was lovely miss p! I enjoyed reading that very much. I wanna thank you for introducing me to bud cort and gram parsons btw, I had no idea who they were before reading your books! i’m in awe of them both!! thank you thank you thank you!

  3. Nicole Cardinale Says:

    Thank you, Pamela, for your anecdotes!! Bud Cort and “Harold and Maude” are my inspirations.

  4. Nichole Clay Says:

    I enjoyed reading your sweet story about how you became life-long friends with Bud Cort through “Harold and Maude”. Both the movie and Mr. Cort changed my life and became a fan.

    You rock, Miss Pamela!

  5. Brenda Says:

    Beautiful Doll…you have never spoken more true words and I have followed your advice for years and I have listened to those voices. I have had wonderful times and gotten hurt but I have never regretted any of it. Much love to you (this is Lu’s red headed friend Brenda).

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