By Lisa Barr
So what do two 40somethings whose three kids are away the entire summer do besides play tag naked in the kitchen?
Yes, we had two tickets for 9 days to Italy. The ultimate romantic vacation. The really good part is that I was very excited to go with my husband, who has been super-stressed with work issues since November, and he finally was able to come up for air. He would say that I used all of that extra oxygen in my packing … I had enough dresses for 39 days in Italy, but as the Italians say, Ciao Chicago — goodbye blog, goodbye book, goodbye life in the ‘burbs. Hello cappuccinos, wine, and pasta. I planned to Eat (A Lot), Pray (Not So Much), and Love (Big Time).
The flight was long but nothing a little melatonin couldn’t fix. We were heading first to Lake Como and then we were returning to our Honeymoon Spot in Tuscany. The plan?
There was no plan — just rent a car and see what happens.
So there we were in the very non-commercial town of Laglio, staying in a gorgeous boutique bed and breakfast right on the exquisite Lake Como. The second night there as I stood waiting for my husband to get the car to go to dinner, a motorcycle zoomed by — but not that fast of a zoom that I couldn’t catch a glimpse of who was zooming.
It was HIM, I swear, George Clooney, with some woman (who cares about her), long legs and arms wrapped around him. I recognized the tan, the salt and pepper hair, dark shades, and beaten-up leather jacket from an older version of PEOPLE. (I’m a woman, we notice those things). And let me just say that I am, at 47, STILL the star-struck type. I had David Cassidy and Andy Gibb posters decking my walls as a teenager. I was president of a Teen Beat Fan Club, and I applied to Brown (didn’t get in) because I had a huge crush on JFK Jr. who went there. Shallow, but true.
“David,” I shouted to my husband who had just pulled up. “George Clooney just drove by.”
Oh, I’m sure. (Let me just add that we were staying in the same town where George has his get-away-from-Hollywood villa.)
“Does it really matter?” David rolled his eyes.
Does. It. Really. Matter.
“Course not,” I responded, clasping his hand. “Who cares about George Clooney. I’m with you.”
FREEZE FRAME. Right there. Stop.
There are those moments in life when you do something really stupid, and you know it, but you can’t stop yourself because it is the ‘What If’ in your system that can’t be ignored — even if your rational side tells you to Run the Other Way.
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s playing Truth or Dare (and taking The Dare — knowing you are about to get slammed), whether it’s calling The Guy and not waiting the requisite two days for him to call you first, and hoping for the best. Or, and I swear this is true (20 years ago), standing naked in a health club locker room, drying off and hearing, “Oh, I’m looking for a new managing editor …” and debating, “Do I approach the voice on the others side of the lockers in my towel, and say ‘I’m your candidate?'” (I closed my eyes and went for it. We had our interview right there in our towels, and I did get the job — another story, another blog).
It is that one moment of no sanity — chutzpah as my Grandma Rachel would say — that you can’t stop yourself because even if the chances are one in a million — you can still be “The One.”
Which brings me back to George Clooney.
A “plan” began to hatch in my head, and somehow I had to get my husband on board. Hmmm.
Let me backtrack. My husband is my greatest cheerleader. As we were packing for our trip, he said, “Seeing that your bag is way more than full (read: overflowing, and they will definitely charge us extra at the airport) and mine is half empty (I mean really, who brings just TWO pairs of shoes), why don’t I throw in a few copies of Fugitive Colors (my new book) — you never know who we are going to meet along the way, right?
George Clooney. My book. They HAD to meet.
Plan A was not only marinating it was cookin’.
“Davey,” I began. “You know those books in your bag? What if we tried to get one to George Clooney? I know it’s crazy, but you never know.”
“That is crazy.”
“I know. But how ’bout tonight after dinner, let’s take a walk and stake out the situation.”
“As in stalk?” he said, arms crossed, one eyebrow raised. But I could tell by the slight crinkle in his forehead that he wasn’t totally unopposed.
I prefer stake.
* * *
So there I was in four-inch high platforms and a long summer dress, and it was around 11 p.m. And according to my friends at Google, Clooney’s villa was less than a mile away. (There was no way I would be caught dead in my Nikes if George happened to be there — hence, the wedgies). Now, a walk anywhere in Italy is NO walk in the park. It is uphill all the way, baby. So there I was trekking in an outfit that desperately needed a cab.
“That’s it.” My husband pointed out the wrought-iron gate surrounded by a line of security cameras and thick foliage.
Hmm, I thought. Not horrible.
“Okay, take a picture,” I said standing near the engraved sign next to his gate.
David shook his head NO. “That’s embarrassing. I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
“Who cares! Take it quick,” I said, glancing at the video cameras everywhere, picturing George and Blonde Goddess Girlfriend Stacy (the one with the 44-inch long legs as reported in every celeb rag), laughing at me as I posed there in front of his villa. And so I took a page out of my 15 year old’s Texting Handbook and gave the pose of poses.
Take that, George, I thought, offering up my best “Gisele”. Put that on your Facebook.
“Hurry,” I said to my husband. “Let’s get out of here. I don’t want him to think I’m stalking.”
# # #
Plan B was in the works.
Now that I knew the layout of his land, how could I actually get George Clooney one of the books nestled in my husband’s suitcase?
The next morning, David and I went kayaking along stunning Lake Como with its lush mountains and tapestry of gorgeous villas. We discussed which one would be ours if we came into a quick 30 million. You know how that goes. And there it was: George’s boat, dock, and backside of his villa. More cameras, more foliage. I had to hide. I was really making an idiot of myself. I pulled my hat low down, trying to cover up … ME.
I lay my paddle across my lap. “Honey, I know this is nuts, but when we drive to dinner tonight, how ’bout if we do a drive by —
“George Clooney again?”
“Just once more. Would that be okay?”
(I had already visualized my modus operandi: I would stick the book with a note between the balusters of the gate blocking off his villa, which by the way is his only entrance from the street.) In other words, if Clooney wants to get into his home, he would have to stop his motorcycle at the gate, and my book would be there front and center for the taking.
So I wrote a note. In an attempt to be way cool, and laid back, it read something like this:
Hey George, I’m Lisa Barr — my book just came out last month. We are vacationing in Como and in Tuscany. Thought you might enjoy a suspenseful read — Have a great summer. –LB (Yes, I actually signed it LB — as if he could give a S.H.I.T.)
I wrapped it NOT in plastic but in “mesh” that I ripped away from a purse I had bought earlier that day. This way the book could be transparent and not thought to be garbage if it were encased in plastic. (I’m clearly in the wrong business. Or I’ve been watching too much TV). This way, the see-through mesh covering gave the book a fighting chance.
My husband looked at the mesh-wrapped book. “Nice wrapping.”
I smiled demurely, totally complimented as if he had just told me my outfit made me look 10 years younger.
So it was not yet dark and we did our “drive by” — I literally jumped out of the car and tried shoving the book inside the gate, near his locked mailbox.
“What are you doing?” my husband shouted out from the car as if he were a director. “Put it there!”
“Put it where?” I yelled back in one of those really loud whispers that the video camera surely picked up.
“Right there!” he wagged his arm.
“Where’s there!” I had tears filling my eyes, picturing George Clooney rolling on the floor with girlfriend Stacy laughing at the Suburban Stalker.
“What’s wrong with you?” my husband shouted. “Stick it right there in the center and it won’t fall down.”
OHMYGOD, this is MY plan not HIS!
I turned my back on him and found my spot. Smack in the middle of the gate. The book stuck, and there was no way George could miss this.
I ran into the car, swearing I could hear alarms behind me, and shouted: “Go! Now! Punch it!!
After we finished a lovely dinner, my husband said, “Do you want to drive by and see if the book is still there?”
“No, that’s okay.” I flicked my wrist dismissively (as if I had thought of anything else ALL night). “But ONLY if YOU want to,” I added, sipping Chianti number three.
He laughed. “Why not finish the job.”
Yeah, why not! (LOVE HIM).
As we rounded the bend back into Laglio, we slowly cruised by the gate. The book, my book …was gone.
Deep breath. Does he have it? Will he read it?
That night in bed, I imagined all the different scenarios. PRIMO SCENARIO: The call to our hotel: Lisa Barr? Hey, It’s George Clooney. Yeah, and how are you doing? Stacy (Blonde Goddess) wanted to go out but I instead stayed home all night to read your book. Where can I sign on for the movie?
SECONDARY (more realistic) SCENARIO: David and I are at dinner. And there was George shouting: Get HER OUT – that woman has been stalking me for two straight days, ruining my vacation. I might as well have stayed in LA.
ME: I’m so sorry — it’s true — all of it … the stalking, the kayaking, the drive-bys — I just wanted to give you my book to read. I- I – I —
GEORGE: Well, you did give me and Stacy a good laugh — but hey, LOVED the book.
The REAL SCENARIO: So far no word. I’m sure someone from GC’s house staff dumped the book with the LB note. But …that tiny voice inside of me says, You Did It.
You took that one in a million chance. You chose the crazy over sanity. You went for the Dare. And those kinds of moments whether you are 7, 17, 27, or 47 … puts the life into life.
Ahh, Viva Italia.