Posts Tagged ‘michael barrie’

Close Your Eyes

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018


His adoption story: It was “the fastest ever,” according to the militant dog adoption folks. We looked for a dog for two straight years. Every Sunday without fail, my husband and I combed through the available dogs at the Farmers Market, on Sunset, in the Palisades. Nothing did it for us.

Then one Sunday, before I woke up, my husband called and said there’s a very cute dog here. The owner is giving him up, but hanging around for the day, hoping to find him a home. An out-of-the-ordinary, not-in-the-system-yet, dog. I said just bring him and the owner to our house. I’ll see him here. Not something they do. But, they did. For me.

Two hundred dollars and an hour later, we had our new dog with the adorable “Disney dog” face. They didn’t do their usual home check. The adoption people knew us well by now, and trusted us.

Our dog came with a name: Dre. Scratch Dre in the first minute, because we’d already agreed that we loved the name Bing. Bing, our new nine-month-old, wired-hair, tan and orange, mid-sized, human-faced boy. (more…)

Mi Casa es Mi Casa

Sunday, February 12th, 2017


If I am within blocks of my childhood home in Beverly Hills, like a homing pigeon, I make my way to 340 South Roxbury Drive. One night, more than 18 years ago, I asked my then boyfriend to turn left from Olympic as we approached the street I once called home. Home. The word. The symbol so loaded for me. Nearly two years before, I had purchased a condo. I didn’t think of it as home. It was all that I could afford. Small. Two bedrooms.   Dark and depressing. Both my parents had died, the small amount of money they left enabled me to finally buy real estate.   I hated that condo. I tried to decorate myself into loving it. I even hired the best craftsman to lay wall to wall Saltillo tile with colorful Spanish tiles as an accent. I was hoping that would give me the thing I was looking for.

What was I looking for? I know what it was. Security. I wanted the man I had been dating for seven years to marry me. To finally really take care of me. I got a lot of resistance.

“Stop. Pull over.” I stared into the barely lit home. It was late and dark outside.   I flashed on coming home at night as a teenager. Alone. Pulling up in the driveway and getting out quickly because the courtyard was dark and appeared menacing with the overgrown pepper tree casting ominous shadows.   My mother loved her tree. She admired every single detail in her home. From the beamed ceilings to the black wrought iron banister to the stained glass window.   My mother, now dead, wasn’t able to live her days out in her beloved Spanish home. When she could no longer afford it, she moved to the desert. Not in a home that she valued for it’s exquisite taste. Once she moved to Palm Springs, a place we vacationed and enjoyed when I was growing up, she became a recluse. I so did not want to live my mother’s life. I needed my own Spanish home. And a fresh start. And a ring on it. (more…)

Not my Birthday

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015



My husband’s birthday was coming up.   As it approached, I kept coming up with ideas. “Surf and Sand in Laguna?” I asked, as he passed me in the hall. Nothing. A few days later, “Malibu Beach Inn?” Nada. A week later, I added what I thought was a fresh idea, “Ojai Valley Inn?” Still, no response.

These are MY ideas of what to do on a birthday. We usually end up at a beach somewhere because, well, we should do something, right? Then, with less than a week until the actual date, he reminds me that it’s HIS birthday. What?!! Incredulous. And now he’s thought about it and really wants to go to LA Photo, the annual photo show, which is no longer held in Santa Monica, but at the LA Mart, downtown.

DOWNTOWN? But there’s no beach. I needed a few moments to come to terms with this.   “Okay,” I peeped. He said let’s get a room for the night and check out all the hipness we keep hearing about downtown. He mentioned the Standard Hotel. But I remembered everyone, meaning my son, talking about the Ace Hotel. My husband took charge and booked it. I think he feared I would switch it behind his back to a beach hotel.   He said restaurant reservations were up to me. He thinks of that as my territory. And, well, it usually is. (more…)

What’s Real

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

My husband and I waited all day for the arrival of our imaginary grandchild.  It’s a boy.  His name is Jackson.  He’s quite real.  What’s imaginary is the idea that we are his grandparents.  Jackson was already nine months old and we had yet to meet him.  That’s because our surrogate child lives in Northern California and we haven’t been up there since the birth, and she hasn’t been here.  A brief explanation of Jackson’s mom, Tory.  When my daughter Augie started second grade, I spotted this tiny, adorable student in her class.  She looked dazed and confused, kind of lost.  I asked Augie about her and she told me that Tory was new at school.  I said, “Let’s bring her home.”  So, we did.  And she stayed, occasionally for months at a time.  The chaos in her own home made it appear that our family was functional.  Everything’s relative.  Secretly, I liked that she thought we were “normal.”  We got so much more out of the deal.  Tory was a real find.

Now, many years later, I texted Tory, though I was concerned she was on the road and might glance at her phone while driving.  But it’s Tory, more adult than any of us, even at thirteen.  She had to be.  I get texted right back.  Oh, did you think it was today I was coming down?  It’s tomorrow, and then I have to leave the following day.  I walked into my husband’s home office.  “I got the day wrong.  There’s a movie in Santa Monica, want to see it?” (more…)

Father’s Day

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Finally a story about another man in my life other than my dad.  Are you relieved?

I’d like you meet my husband. Here he is.

And these are just some of the reasons that I love the man.  I also like him because he is smart and funny.  And handsome.  But, it’s his generous spirit that has always blown me away.

Quickly, some back-story you might need to know.

Michael is only a few years older than me, yet seems like he’s from another generation.  When we drive in his car, he listens exclusively to jazz.  He just loves that whole Sinatra era, rat pack thing.

Some years ago when I knew my friend Ricci Martin had written a book about his dad Dean, (yes, that Dean) I called him up for a signed copy as a gift for my husband.  I didn’t know if my Michael would even read it.  He did.  Then he got to work on a secret gift.  Secret to me at least. Let me clarify something.  I’m not all that close with Ricci.  We have a lot of the same friends, so sure, I can make that call to get the signed book, but we don’t really stay in touch.  I knew nothing of my husband’s plan.  But, he had read that Dean’s favorite scent was Woodhue, a cologne made by Fabrege.  Ricci’s father had been gone quite awhile and Michael thought it would make a great gift if he could find a bottle of the now discontinued scent.  First he made a call to a few relatives.  My husband’s uncle George had been the CEO of Faberge.  No luck.  It hadn’t been made in years.  Then he started a search on the internet and it led him to eBay and he found a never used bottle.  He purchased it and then asked me for Ricci’s address.  I asked why.  And, he told me this story.  That after reading the book, he went on a hunt to find Dean’s son Ricci a bottle of Woodhue.   I think Michael doing that touched me even more than it did Ricci. (more…)

Living the Dream!!!

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

“Please don’t wake me from this dream!” I said out loud to my husband while eating the brilliant meal in front of me, prepared by my live-in chef.  Uh-huh, you heard correctly.  My private chef.

Let me take you back five days.  I received a late-night email.  It was from an old friend, Olivia.  She told me her son was here in Los Angeles from London (where they live) and that the minute he arrived, he had a bust-up with his girlfriend.   She said that he could use a friendly face.  I answered immediately: “Of course, have him call me.”

First call the following day was Oscar, whom I’ve never met.  In fact, I have not seen his mother in thirty years.  Since he was already in Venice, I asked him to meet me at one of my favorite restaurants, Gjelina on Abbot Kinney.  My husband Michael agreed to join us.  Oscar, looking lost and forlorn, told us he had planned to take his now ex-girlfriend to Valentine’s dinner here at this same restaurant the following night.  We offered our home to Oscar for the rest of his vacation.  I didn’t think we would be too intriguing, but later that day he told me that eating lunch with us was the most fun he had had so far in Los Angeles.  And when he told us he was a chef, I nearly screamed.  Actually, I did, but only internally. (more…)

(Zarider) and Devine Intervention

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

When my first child, Oliver, was in pre-school, there was the perfunctory final meeting with his group of loving teachers.  One bit of advice stood out.  Maybe when he starts kindergarten, you can encourage him to lose the costume and makeup that he insists on wearing daily.

Who was I to discourage the distinctive fashion choice of my four-and-a-half year old son?  I wore costumes to school every single day of my life — in high school, mostly.  One day I might wear holsters and fake guns.  Next, I might walk my plastic duck on a leash into the classroom, take out a toy tea set and have a pretend tea party.  And I miss my matador costume; I would wear that right now if I still had it.

So there was Oliver in “big boy school” and he decided to not wear the face paint, but he did rock his new 1950’s-style greaser jacket.  He had just seen the movie “Grease.” (more…)

Happy Mothers Day To Me!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag

Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?

I woke with one of those hormonal migraines.  Not a great start to the day.  My oldest son, who was staying with me, was born 28 years ago to the day, May 8th.  It had made a most wonderful Mother’s Day gift.  And now he just announced he’s in a severe depression.

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin

Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

I spent the next several hours in a dark room, preparing to go to my youngest son’s fourth audition for a singing competition reality show.  My headache was getting worse by the hour and I’m secretly praying for the call from Barnaby letting me off the hook.  A call in which he will say, oops, he got the time wrong and it’s done.  He will be on this new show or he won’t be, and I can then rest comfortably.  But no, that doesn’t happen.   At around 4:00 p.m. I walk into my husband’s office at home and announce in a very quiet, suffering voice that I will be heading to the downtown venue.  I feel for him since he needs to wake up for work at 4:00 a.m. and tell him he can pass on this one.  He offers to drive me anyway.  What a relief, I accept the generous offer.  I’d have jumped at if I weren’t in such pain.

Miraculously, we make it to downtown Los Angeles in twenty minutes.  Crossing my fingers, it looks like things might work out well.    We turn onto the right street and suddenly what come into focus are long lines with thousands of human beings.  It looks like chaos, though I’m sure there is an order to it all.  Dread sets in.  I hate crowds.  I text Barnaby a frantic message.  There is a spooky line of regular people.  He will know what I mean.  I get a text back from Vice, the other member of his group.  He says to tell a security guard that I’m a family member of Wild Thingz.  I do, and it helps us get in much faster.  We are led into a huge arena and herded here and there like cattle until we find our upper level seats.  The rest of the place fills with all the “normal” people who waited for hours in line.  They start to chant, Simon! Simon!  And suddenly it sinks in what is about to play out.  I do not watch reality shows very often, if at all.  I have never watched the one this Simon was on before.  I don’t, however, live under a rock, so I have landed on the channel a few times, long enough to see him abuse random performers.  At this point, I’m terrified of what is about to happen to my kid.  I look to my husband with sheer panic.  “Is this one of those shows where the guy is REALLY mean?”  I want him to answer, no, honey.  He doesn’t.  He tells me the truth as I start to curl into a fetal position. (more…)

Little Drummer Girl

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Fredrica Duke, Little Drummer Girl

I have a favorite sound, not that you asked. And no, it isn’t the obvious one, crashing waves. Nope. That’s my second choice.

I once went to Orange County with my husband to see a friend who was a famous jazz singer. She gave us free passes, we couldn’t resist. As we approached “will call” to retrieve our tickets, I overheard the orchestra tuning up. This was years ago. I looked at my husband and announced, “That is my favorite sound. So, if ever we are on The Newlywed Game and they ask you my favorite sound, that is what it is, please remember.” I doubt that he made a mental note of it, so we won’t be winning any game shows.

I have a prized possession – a note I wrote to my daddy when I was little. The note says that my grades are good enough to get into orchestra. Proudest moment of my life, and I needed to share the good news with my dad who was in London producing a play (and turning down an unknown band called the Beatles who wanted to come to the States). I looked forward to that day — being in the orchestra — my entire school life. I would watch the elegant older girls clutching their violins and dream of the day that that would be me.

I brought home the application for orchestra. There were a few questions on the form and I enlisted my brother Alan’s help. He asked me what instrument I wished to play. I said, as if there were any other answer, violin. He then said, “Okay, second choice.” I again said “violin.” He said “No, Fredde, they need a SECOND choice, what other instrument might you want to learn?” “Nothing Alan, I only want to learn to play the violin. Just put that and let me turn it in tomorrow, that’s good, thanks,” I said, as I tried to pry the paperwork from his hands. He refused to accept this as an answer because he goes by the rules. I kept insisting, “I ONLY want to play the violin and no other instrument — don’t even write one down.” Now it was a battle. “Listen,” Alan said, “the bells could be fun, you might find them easy since you already play a bit of piano? So, how about those bells?” “Okay, sure,” I reluctantly gave in just to get him off my back, and he filled out the rest of the form. (more…)

I’m Growing Up, I’m 57!!! (said with a kick like Molly Shannon on SNL)

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

me with my dad, "Duke" at the beach house in 1992

My husband has heard my stories so many times he’s given each a number.   There’s the hilarious # 12, the poignant # 8B, and the surefire crowd-pleasers #2 and #33.  Rather than hear them again, at this point in our marriage he prefers I just call out the number.  This one I’m going to tell you is kind of a celebrity-sighting story – it doesn’t have a number yet, but here goes.

Eighteen summers ago when the show my husband had worked on was ending — well, not so much ending as the host was retiring —  he treated himself to a summer in the “bu.”  (Malibu, for those not in the know).   After all the years of experience with my dad blowing big wads of cash on summer rentals, I decided to help with the negotiations.  My dad would always start his rental on Memorial Day and end at Labor Day.  So, I suggested the same and we got the real estate agent to agree on a lower price for the longer term.  My husband moved into a wonderful home on Old Malibu Road the very night of the show’s last taping.

The summer of ‘92 on Old Malibu Road could have been its own book or at the very least a good short story.   Suffice it to say, it was a grand summer.