Isn’t it funny, if you look back on your life and think about all the small co-incidences that have taken you to where you are now? Like how you googled one thing, found something else and it totally changed your life? Or how you decided to attend that one party instead of another and you met your new boss or lover?
I could talk about a zillion such co-incidences (because let’s face it – our lives are made of them – every lover you ever met, every friend, every job offer, every adventure…they were all just co-incidences), but for today, I will stick with one: Isabel Allende. (If you want to know more about the co-incidences in my life these posts will do it: Paris… and Magical meetings and serendipity…)
I fell in love with Isabel Allende at the tender age of seventeen – I was having an awful time living in Vancouver and this little lady made me smile as she stood in the middle of a church describing how she knew she had overcome a depression after dreaming sex dreams about Antonio Banderas swimming in rice pudding. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think food and sex are perfect companions. So much so, that I am setting up a company that deals with the two put together…no it’s probably not what you think, it’s better than that (what were you thinking?…). I can’t tell you the entire concept, as that would spoil the surprise, but I will let you know when we open.
Of course there are a few other influences than Allende for my business – a dash of Branson, a sprinkle of Moulin Rouge, a slice of my best friend and a teaspoon of my business partner and a few cups of a certain chef or two…but I’ll leave the details for my autobiography. For now, I’ll leave you in Allende’s hands:
This is the part where I have to get personal and talk about romance.
My books force me to travel frequently. My karma is to stumble from one place to another, like a wandering pilgrim. In l987, while still living in Venezuela, I went on a lecturing tour that took me from Iceland to Puerto Rico, and many other climates in between, until I ended up in Northern California. Little did I suspect that there my fate would change again. I met the man that was written in my destiny, as my mother would say. He was an American lawyer called William Gordon, who was introduced to me as the last heterosexual bachelor in San Francisco. He had read my second novel and liked it. When he saw me he was thoroughly disappointed, however: he likes tall blondes.
After my speech we were invited to a dinner party in an Italian restaurant. There was a full moon and Frank Sinatra was singing “Strangers in the Night”, the kind of stuff that would ruin a novel. Willie was sitting in front of me, observing me with a puzzled expression. The combination of Frank Sinatra and spaghetti tutto mare had a predictable effect on me: I fell in lust. I had been living in chastity for a very long time… two or three weeks as I recall, so I took the initiative. I asked him to tell me his life. This trick always works, ladies! Ask any man to talk about himself and pretend to listen while you relax and enjoy your meal, and he will end up convinced that you are a smart and sexy gal. In this case, however, I did not have to pretend. Soon I realized I had stumbled upon one of those rare gems that storytellers are always looking for: that man’s life was a novel! So I did what any normal Latin American female writer would have done: marry the man to get the story. Well, I didn’t marry him right away, it took some fine manipulation.
First he invited me to his house. I was expecting a romantic evening in a divorcee’s penthouse overlooking the Golden Gate bridge, soft jazz, champagne and smoked salmon. I got nothing of the sort. There was so much dog crap in the garage, that he had to pull back so that I could step out of the car. His youngest son, a ten year old brat, greeted us with rubber bullets. The golden retriever as hyperactive as the kid, placed his muddy paws on my shoulders and slurped on my face. There were other pets: a couple of maniac rats in a filthy cage chewing on each other’s tails, and dead fish floating in the slimy waters of an aquarium. I didn’t flinch. Lust does that to some people, it gives them an heroic attitude. I liked the man and I wanted to hear the rest of his story. He served a burnt chicken, we drank cheap California wine, and I will skip the rest. The next day, when he took me to the airport, I asked him politely if we had any sort of commitment. He turned chalk-pale and his hands trembled so vigorously that he had to pull over. I didn’t know that you never EVER mention the word commitment in front of an American male.
– What are you talking about, we just met! he mumbled, terrified.
– I am 45 and I have no time to waste, I said. I need to know if this thing is serious or not.
– What thing?- he asked befuddled.
That day I took the plane, but a week later I was back without an invitation. I moved into his house and six months later he had to marry me because I pinned him against the wall.