A path lit by words

Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson!

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here's to you

His name was Jake and he was dating my next-door neighbor’s twenty-year-old daughter. Sprawled on the living room sofa, he spoke through a three-beer haze.

“You remind me of someone,” he said.

“I have at least one double in town,” I replied. “A guy from work threw popcorn at her in a movie theater.”

Jake shook his head. “Not a real person. A movie star.”

“No kidding. Which one?”

“I can’t remember her name, but she’s tall and blonde and she has great eyes. We saw her on a DVD. Hey, Jen,” he called to his girlfriend. “What was that movie about the writer who killed herself?”

Sylvia,” Jen said.

I was flattered. “You think I look like Gwyneth Paltrow?”

“Not her,” Jake said. “The mother.”

He meant Blythe Danner, Gwyneth’s mother for real. I thanked him. It seemed like the right thing to do.

Then I added, “The last time someone said I looked like an actress, it was Jacquelyn Bisset.”

“Who?” Jake said.

Who indeed. That happened in the eighties—before Jake was born.

“Do I really remind you of Blythe Danner?” I asked.

Jake waffled. Maybe it was my piercing glare.  “Actually, you look more like that woman in The Graduate.”

It must have been classics night for Jen and Jake. I knew better, this time, than to guess Katharine Ross.

“Anne Bancroft,” I said. “Mrs. Robinson.”

“Yeah, her.”

Still somebody’s mother, and Anne Bancroft is old. In fact, I think she’s dead.

Later, I told my husband Jake thought I looked like Blythe Danner.

“Who?” he asked.

“Blythe Danner. We saw her in Sylvia. She was the mother.”

“What else has she played in?”

I rolled my eyes. “She was Sallie Wingo in Prince of Tides. And Robert de Niro’s wife in those Focker movies.”

“Can’t place her. And I hate those Focker movies.”

What was I thinking? This man asks, “Who?” when I mention Laura Linney or Julianne Margulies or even Shelley Long.

“Who’s Shelley Long?” he asked.

“You know. From Cheers.”

I got a blank stare.

“Sam’s girlfriend,” I nudged.

“Which one?”

“The first one, Diane. She was Fraser’s fiancé.”

“The blonde or the brunette?”

I gave up. “Anyway, after Blythe Danner, it got worse. He told me I look like Anne Bancroft.”

I prepared to list her movie credits, but my husband cut me off with a yelp.

“Mrs. Robinson? Mrs. Robinson was hot!”

“She must have been, if you remember her from the sixties.”

“I was a teenage boy,” he defended himself. Then he smiled. “How old was Anne Bancroft when she made The Graduate?”

Great save, I thought. And a great question. How old was Anne Bancroft when she seduced a young Dustin Hoffman?

I ran to the kitchen and grabbed my smart phone. The Internet can tell me. The Internet knows all. But first I typed Blythe Danner into IMDb. She was born February 3, 1943.

Yup, she’s old.

I typed in Anne Bancroft.

Real name Anna Maria Louisa Italiano. Married to Mel Brooks for forty years. Appeared in sixty movies, made The Graduate in 1967. Born September 17, 1931. Died June 6, 2005.

Rest in peace, Anne, but bless your heart, you were thirty-six when you made that movie!

“She was thirty-six,” I shouted to my husband.

“See?” he said. Then, “How old is Blythe Danner?”

I fluttered my eyelashes and smiled. “I’m sorry. Who?”


Author: Jean Bardo

I'm a freelance Human Resources consultant and blogger, a published short story writer, and an aspiring author of fiction I call "literary mysteries."

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