I was flipping through YouTube this morning when I came upon Joan Collins promoting a new novel on Conan O’Brien’s show, a video from, most likely, the late 1990s.
It brought back a memory from the summer of 1985.
Back then, when I was still something of an idiot, I had just completed Columbia Law School and was taking a bar review prep course when I suddenly realized that I had failed to register for the exam.
This meant that I had to go to the law firm where I would be working, which was paying for that bar review class, and explain that I had missed the filing date.
One of the key things about being a good lawyer is that you don’t miss filing dates.
Suddenly, I was oh for one, and when I told them, they were not amused.
So I did what any reasonable person would do under the circumstances: I stopped taking the bar review classes and took off with my girlfriend for a couple of weeks in France and Spain.
Maybe that wasn’t so idiotic.
We were in some lovely seaside town in the south of France, Biarritz, most likely.
And that’s when I saw her.
Sitting at an outside table at a café in a sun-dappled town square was Joan Collins.
And she was looking at me.
Well, she wasn’t just looking at me.
She was cruising me.
Maybe I’m dating myself, because maybe people don’t use that term anymore.
But it means that she was, well, giving me the eye.
Checking me out.
Offering me a “come hither” look, if you will.
The Joan Collins.
At first, I thought, I’m reading too much into this, but then I realized, no, I’m not. This is happening.
What to do?
Let me back up — if you’re under, let’s say, 50, Joan Collins was an international sex symbol, a massive TV star and at the same time an extraordinarily successful internationally best-selling author.
You can think of her as the Kim Kardashian of the 80s, albeit with a little more class.
And here she is, giving me the once over.
My girlfriend was French, so I think I could’ve explained this situation to her and she would have understood.
Or maybe not.
Actually, if we’re going to tell the truth, I just didn’t have the guts.
I could have gone over to her table, or we could have gone over to her table, and sat down, had a coffee, and we could have gotten to know one another.
No harm, no foul, no complications.
But I was an idiot, remember?
And idiots sometimes lack courage.
You might ask, how much courage would it have taken to go have a cappuccino with Joan Collins in Biarritz, on a sun-dappled Tuesday afternoon, while all your law school classmates were cramming property laws to get ready for the bar exam you weren’t going to take?
Obviously a little more courage than I had.
I don’t think Joan Collins, star of Dynasty, doyenne of the New York Times Best Seller list, has even the slightest recollection of the day that she gave me the eye in Biarritz.
And though I might not have had the courage to gear anything more than a warm smile, I won’t forget it.
Chalk it up to…what might have been.