One of the biggest regrets of my high school experience actually occurred the year after I graduated. That was when Robert Redford, yes, THE Robert Redford, came to town to direct a movie. Unless you’re a woman of a certain age, it’s hard to explain what an impact ol’ Bob had on us gals back then. He had a hard-to-please, stand-offish, incredibly alluring quality that made every female I knew weak in the knees, my knees included. He was THE superstar of the 1970’s and I wanted to see him, up close and personal. In the flesh. For real.
So I decided to come home from college one weekend supposedly to visit my boyfriend but really to hunt down Robert Redford. My plan was simple: I would have my boyfriend drive me around town until we spotted the film crew. I would get out of the car, tell my boyfriend that I forgot something at home and would he be an angel and fetch it while I waited on the movie set. Boyfriend would leave, Bob would spot me in the crowd and ask me to marry him. (Hey, no one has ever accused me of not having an extremely overactive and highly inaccurate imagination!) Easy as pie and positively foolproof.
After making the four hundred mile trip, I arrived in my hometown on a picture perfect autumn day, said hello to my parents and then got on the phone to announce to my honey that I was home for the weekend. When my boyfriend asked what I wanted to do that night, I innocently replied, “Why don’t we go for a drive?” He agreed and although I felt slightly sneaky as I hung up the phone, I knew he would forgive me once I invited him to a fabulous party at the Hollywood home I would soon be sharing with Mr. Redford as Mrs. Redford. (I know. Totally Delusional.)
Now, a normal person might wonder at this point why I simply didn’t drive myself while searching for RR but I don’t think it’s really necessary to point out that I was not especially sane that night. What I was was more than a little obsessed and I didn’t trust myself behind the wheel. Plus, my father would kill me if I left the family car behind when I ran off with an extremely famous movie star. So I was really thinking of everyone else when I asked my boyfriend to drive me.
It was remarkably easy to find the film crew. The whole town knew that Robert Redford was filming at the only McDonald’s in the area. “Let’s drive over and watch,” I suggested, again innocently. My boyfriend drove to McDonald’s and my heart pounded with anticipation. FINALLY, I was going to see a real, honest to God, A-list, MOVIE STAR! My plan was coming together like Neil Simon play and I knew that it would have a happy ending.
We drove past the McDonald’s where I spotted a bunch of trucks and about a thousand people milling around the parking lot. “Come on,” I said, “park the car! I want to see Robert Redford!”
But my boyfriend didn’t park the car. My boyfriend kept driving. And driving. And driving. “What are you doing?” I gasped, craning my neck as the golden arches disappeared behind us. “Turn the car around! I thought we were going to watch the movie being directed!”
“I changed my mind,” Boyfriend announced. “We’re going into Chicago. That will be more fun than watching that creep Robert Redford.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was it possible that my boyfriend KNEW about my plan to run off with Robert Redford? What had tipped him off—the way I kept urging him to drive faster or the half a bottle of Shalimar that I had poured over myself? “But…” I began and then stopped. It was useless. If I insisted that we turn around, I’d have to deal with a cranky, pouty boyfriend for the rest of the night. Besides, I would be around for the whole weekend. Surely I’d find Robert Redford at some point before I had to go back to college.
But I didn’t. After that night the whole film crew vanished and were nowhere to be found. Nothing, nada, no one. Not a camera or a roadie and certainly not Robert Redford was in sight. I never got to see Robert Redford that weekend and I’ve never had the opportunity to run into him since. My boyfriend ruined my life. Naturally, I didn’t forgive him. Instead I got even another way.
I married him.