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• Taking Norma Jean to Ken Murray's Blackouts
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Nights with Eugenia
at the Hotel Green
I met Eugenia in 1953 when I was 22, without a girlfriend and, as always, in hopes of meeting a potential Mrs. Edrington.
My usual way of approaching women was frequenting places where singles went to dance (like the "Cinegrill" in Hollywood). In Pasadena, the Lounge in the Hotel Green was the place to be.
The Lounge featured a trio that played very danceable music. The leader was a pianist whom I'll call "Don R." Mr. R did musical work for various movie studios during the day. The guitarist was Bud Coleman, who later worked with Herb Alpert and who co-wrote a hit song in the 1960s called "Tijuana Taxi."
I don't remember the bass player's name, but he was just as talented and friendly as the others.
Although going to night clubs and asking women to dance was my preferred way of getting acquainted, I wasn't all that good at it. I've always been shy around women, and it would often take all the courage I could muster to ask a strange lady to dance. Although I've never been a "drinker," having a couple of highballs would help loosen my inhibitions.
I probably went to the Hotel Green Lounge half a dozen times before I asked anyone to dance. When I did ask someone, it was Eugenia. In fact, it had to be Eugenia — for a number of reasons. Let me explain.
Each time I went to the Green, Eugenia was there. She was usually alone, but occasionally another woman would be sitting at her table. Eugenia and her lady-friends appeared to be in their mid-40s.
The single guys that frequented the Lounge only rarely asked one of them to dance. When they did, Eugenia's friends would sometimes say yes. Eugenia was seldom asked and almost always said no if she was asked.
On the rare occasion when she did say yes, I noticed that she never invited a dance partner to sit at her table afterwards. Furthermore, she always refused if a guy asked her to join him at his table.
In fact, I had begun to get the feeling Eugenia had a secret reason for being there nearly every night — and that it had nothing to do with wanting to meet a strange guy. Also, Eugenia rarely smiled and she looked quite melancholy most of the time.However, all the above lead me to believe that Eugenia would:
1 - Dance with me if I asked, and
2 - Invite me to her table afterwards.
I was right on both counts. She even smiled and held me very close and affectionately as we danced.
Well, having Eugenia hold me tight was quite gratifying because she was a very full-figured woman and seemed to enjoy massaging my chest with her bosom as we danced.
She also wore a relatively low-cut gown (by 1950s standards) most of the time. Rarely did any of the lounge lizards walk by without taking a furtive and approving glance. I, too, had trouble keeping my eyes off her cleavage when sitting across the table from her.
However, if she caught me stealing a peek, she would smile, as if to say, "I'm glad you like them."
As we became better acquainted, I learned that Eugenia was a widow who had a modest income that kept her from having to work, and that she had a grown daughter who lived with her. More importantly, I learned that her reason for being at the Green was that she was hopelessly in love with the musical group's pianist, Mr. R.
She would look at him longingly and say things like, "Have you ever seen such full, sweet, kissable lips? How could I not love him?"
After I'd heard this a few times, I half-jokingly said, "Well, Eugenia, I have pretty full lips, too."
"Yes, you do, Don," she replied with a smile and a squeeze of my hand. "And one day some lucky girl is going to have your lips all over her." Then her eyes returned to the other Don and became melancholy again.
One of Eugenia's friends was a divorcee named Jackie. Jackie took a liking to me, but decided I was probably too young for her. So we danced and joked around, but she was always scanning the room, hoping a "Mr. Wonderful" would be there and ask her to dance.
This never happened, however, but she seemed to be getting increasingly interested in me. She began asking questions about how I felt regarding older women and younger men, and just how "well-acquainted" I was with Eugenia. She asked if we had gone to bed together, and seemed pleased when I said no.
"So who are you sleeping with?" she asked with a slightly diabolic smile.
"Nobody," I replied, not enjoying having been asked such a personal question. Then I added, "If I were sleeping with someone would I be hanging around here?"
"Oh," Jackie said softly, as she held my hand in a motherly way. "Well, you'll find somebody soon."
Then one fateful Friday evening Jackie and I found ourselves alone in the Hotel Green Lounge.NEXT > >