Here Comes (And Goes) The Judge
Belle has invited me to DANIEL for dinner. She must have some news. DANIEL doesn’t exactly fall within her price range so it must be big. When I arrive—guess what? She’s got company. He’s tall. A Sam Elliott-type. Old and cowboy-elegant with an earring and genuine cookie-duster mustache. He stands up slow and takes both of my hands in his as Belle introduces us. “This is Judge Reginald T. MacMurray,” she says. “Congratulate us, girlfriend. We’re getting married!”
GETTING MARRIED?? After a few moments of stunned chitchat, I ask Belle to accompany me to the ladies room before screaming, “What in the fuck is going on here?” Belle laughs. “We met at the club three weeks ago,” she says. “He adores me and I’m fond enough of him. He’s 82 years old. Adding a codicil to his Will as we speak.” Okay. I get it. This is the Anna Nicole Smith story. Part two. Can you say se-cur-ity? Suddenly the third stall door opens. It’s Melania Trump. She looks at us and frowns. Really? Really?? Girl, bye!
The Judge is a charmer. He exudes that laid-back vibe that comes with age. And he’s clearly crazy about her. I’m almost jealous. We’re having a lovely time over cocktails and foie gras when Courtney arrives. Being a shit to his mother is second nature to him so, when Belle introduces the Judge and breaks the news, Courtney refuses to even shake the man’s hand. “If you marry this dusty old snake I’ll never forgive you!” he sneers at Belle before spinning on his heel and storming off.
Well, Courtney has certainly shut the party down. Belle is in tears. But honestly. What did she expect? I find him slumped at the bar like a sack of dirty laundry and force myself to put an arm around his shoulders. Instead of my hands around his neck. I speak very slowly. “Tell me, Courtney. Is Princeton making you stupid or what? You know that your mom has no savings, right? No pension. And that dusty old snake? He looks like a shiny new penny to me. Open your eyes, boy. Or do YOU plan to take care of her when she can’t take care of herself?
It’s barely daybreak when Belle phones. And it just so happens, I’m awake. (wink wink) She’s anxious to hear what I think of her intended and I tell her the truth. The Judge is interesting, worldly, a true gentleman. And yes, he’s got serious swag. The bottom line? If she’s happy then I’m happy, too. And Belle’s way beyond happy this morning. She’s ecstatic! Courtney called to apologize for showing out at dinner. “I don’t know what you said to him,” she says. “But it worked.”
Yeah. I thought it might.
Four days later Desi, Lourdis and I are at The Peninsula Hotel for our regular Thursday evening cocktails. We’re waiting on Belle and I’m about to pee in my pants. I’m so excited for her to tell them the news! So where is she? She’s never this late. Finally I call her. She’s at home. She apologizes about not being here with us but there’s something we should know. The Judge doesn’t like her going out alone at night. So that’s it. Just like that, she won’t be joining us on Thursday evenings anymore. After five years, we’re being kicked to the curb. Well I’ll be damn. He is a dusty old snake, just like Courtney said.
By the time their wedding day arrives, I’m over both Belle and the Judge. She’s changing, growing more distant with every conversation. I’m losing her. My best friend of thirty years. And I know he’s the reason why. While Courtney is a no-show, the Judge’s frumpy old daughters grumble in a corner. Belle is radiant, sizing up her diamond next to Desi’s rock and feeling, finally, like the high society dame she’s always wanted to be. She’ll be moving back to the city, something she’s wanted forever, and I want to be happy for her. But I’m so not.
It’s 4:43 am. My phone rings. Belle is sobbing on the other end. “Can you come over?” she asks. “It’s the Judge. He’s dead.”
The Judge never signed the codicil to his Will. Ouch. And he put Belle’s ring on his AmEx card so the frumpy old daughters are refusing to pay for it. Double ouch. My girl is going out of this thing the same way she came into it. With nothing. And there’s no consolation prize. Yeah it sucks. Bigtime. With the Judge, all of her worries would have been over. But look. I was losing my bestie and now I’ve got her back. So I’m really not bawling THAT hard about any of it. Don’t tell her I said it but…sorry. Not sorry. Cheers!