You Take My Breath Away...Not

He showed up in his white pickup truck with two pit bulls in the back and asked me if I wanted to go up to Lover's Lane.

1981. Rex Smith was the Justin Timberlake of my day. He was the star of lite FM, with every station playing his smash hit, "You Take My Breath Away" and touring around with his swashbuckling golden tresses a la early Frampton.

Cast in New York's Public Theater production of _Pirates of Penzance,_ playing opposite Linda Rondstadt, Rex sang and danced and did the Johnny Depp "open shirt and reveal manly chest" thing with extraordinary verve. The high boots, poofy shirts, and pirate getup created the perfect hormonal--if still virginal--storm.

We--my mother, my sister, and I--lived just a five-minute bike ride to the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, where the Shakespeare in the Park festival was staging _Pirates._

For a 20-year-old actress wannabe studying with Uta Hagen at Berghof Studio, every performance at the Shakespeare festival was a master class. During the summers back in the early '80s, I saw every show.

I was swept away by legends like Meryl Streep and Raul Julia and the soon-to-be-famous (and infamous) Peter MacNicol, who went on to play John Cage on _Ally McBeal_ and now stars as the eccentric but endearing Dr. Larry Fleinhardt opposite Rob Morrow in _Numb3rs._ A genius of a talent who made watching _Twelfth Night_ more hilarious than the complete boxed set of _Curb Your Enthusiasm._ But whatever.

"The Lord works In mysterious ways," I thought. "Ask and you shall receive. You'll never know if you don't try." I was a scramble of New Age creative visualization meets pop psychology, fueled by books like _Looking Out for #1_ and Dr. Wayne Dyer's _The Sky's the Limit._ I knew Rex Smith was meant for me.

I slipped a note to the backstage dressing room before one of the shows. A note that I'm sure I thought said it all. Something clever but sweet. Full of praise. And my phone number. And I believed. I believed. It was just meant to be. This was my moment. God would see to it. And then I waited.

Three weeks later, Rex called. I knew he would. He showed up in his white pickup truck with two pit bulls in the back and asked me if I wanted to go up to Lover's Lane. I was, like, "Lover's what?" He was, like, "You know--where do people go around here? Nudge nudge, wink, wink." "Go for what?" I asked. He shook his head and asked, "How old are you again?"

I was old enough to take a look at the two pits in the back of the truck and get out.


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