Art by Dan Wiffler
There was one time when I got stuck in an elevator with Michael Bolton and Richard Nixon. It was during the Annual Breast Cancer Benefit at the L.A. Hyatt. I was there escorting Sheena Easton. My agent had arranged for Sheena to sing a medley during the night's show; he thought it would be nice if Sheena and I were photographed together.
We had arrived at the benefit at 8 pm. During Bea Arthur's keynote speech, I gave Sheena a quick kiss on the cheek and drifted downstairs to the Fairmont Room. I ordered a scotch-on-the-rocks and then strolled through the south wing, sipping my drink and studying some of the photographs on the Wall of Fame. Then I hopped into an elevator to return to the ballroom. When I stepped into the elevator, I noticed an older man, dressed in a charcoal suit, staring at the elevator wall and muttering to himself. Next to him stood a younger man in a navy blue suit. The door closed and the elevator started climbing.
At the next floor, Michael Bolton stepped into the elevator. I recognized his distinctive, shoulder-length blonde hair immediately. I jumped toward him, almost spilling my drink.
"Michael, baby--man, how cool to run into you. How'ya doing?"
Michael looked down at the floor. "Hey..."
I patted him on the shoulder. "Mike, you are just awesome. Just awesome. I love your stuff."
He nodded and looked at the floor. "Uhh, thanks."
I had a huge smile on my face. "I have to tell you, your song, 'When A Man's Got A Good Woman'--that song just slays me. It just kills me. I love it. Did you write that?"
Michael kept staring at the floor of the elevator. He didn't answer. I poked him in the arm. "Hey, you wrote that, right?"
He glanced at me quickly, then looked away. He shook his head softly. "No, I didn't write it."
I nodded. "Well, it's great. It just tears me up inside. 'When A Man Needs A Good Woman.' Yeah, I can really dig where you're coming fr--"
"It's called 'When A Man Loves A Woman.'"
I paused. "You know, Mike, there was this period of time not too long ago when I wasn't working. And that song came out and I heard it on the radio, and it was just--your voice was so right on. I mean, you have more soul than anybody, man. You're really great. Has anybody ever told you how much soul you have? I mean, you're fantastic."
Michael was looking at the floor. "Thanks."
I nodded. "Yeah."
Suddenly the lights in the elevator blinked off for a moment. And then they blinked on again. And then, the elevator suddenly lurched to a stop. I stumbled sideways, bumping into the old man in the charcoal suit. Some of my drink splashed onto the sleeve of my sport jacket.
"Hey--" The guy in the navy blue suit pushed me away from the old man. "Step back, please."
"Huh?" I stepped away from the old man. The guy in the navy suit steadied the old man. "Mr. President, are you okay, sir?"
The old man raised his head. It was Richard Nixon. I was startled. Nixon nodded his head. "Just fine, son."
The young guy glanced up at the ceiling of the elevator. "We seem to have stopped, sir. Possibly the elevator has malfunctioned. I'll radio for help."
Nixon nodded. "All right."
The young guy pulled a walkie-talkie out of his suit jacket. "Lone Wolf to Silver Bird, Lone Wolf to Silver Bird, do you copy, over?"
I poked Michael Bolton. "Hot damn, it's Richard Nixon. Can you believe it?"
The young guy put an arm in front of me. "Take it easy. Step back, please."
I smiled. "No problem here." I shook my head. "But wow, Richard Nixon--what are you doing here?"
The young guy pointed at me. "Look, sir, please just step back. You're interfering with official business."
"Hey, man, I'm cool."
He clicked the radio again. "Lone Wolf to Silver Bird, do you copy, over?..."
The radio crackled with static. After a moment a voice answered faintly, "Roger, Lone Wolf."
The young guy nodded to himself and spoke into the radio. "Uhh, Jim... Mother Goose needs help in the south elevator."
The radio voice crackled, "That's a roger, Lone Wolf."
I turned to Michael Bolton, who was looking at Richard Nixon. "Pretty cool, huh?"
I turned to Nixon, who was standing quietly in a corner of the elevator. "So, Mr. President... how are you doing? How's retirement treating you?"
Nixon nodded. "Pretty good--as long as this elevator gets going."
I laughed. "Right, right." I turned and indicated Michael Bolton. "Mr. President, do you know Michael Bolton?"
"No, I don't."
"He's great. A famous singer. He's got a couple of gold albums."
Michael flashed a beaming smile at Nixon. "Platinum albums, actually."
I nodded. "Yeah, he's an amazing singer."
Nixon reached to shake Michael Bolton's hand. The secret service guy paused. He glanced from Nixon to Michael Bolton to Nixon. "Uhh, Mr. President?..."
Nixon turned to him. "It's okay, son." He reached out and shook Michael Bolton's hand.
Michael Bolton grinned. "It's a pleasure."
I turned to Nixon. "So what are you doing here?"
"Pat insisted we do the benefit this year."
"Well...what do you think?"
Nixon frowned. "A huge fuss. All these jackasses making speeches. I can't get a drink to save my life."
I glanced at my half-finished scotch-on-the-rocks. "Hey, I'm drinking scotch if you want some."
I held out my glass to Nixon. He started to reach for it. Suddenly, the secret service guy, who'd been talking on his walkie-talkie, reached out and grabbed my drink. He turned to Nixon. "Mr. President, I really must insist..."
Nixon exploded. "God-dammit, son--gimme that scotch."
The secret service guy handed over the glass. Nixon slugged it down. Then he exhaled. "Whoo--good stuff. Wish I had another."
I smiled. "I hear that. Believe me, if we weren't stuck in this elevator, I think I'd turn right around and head back to the bar."
Nixon nodded. "You're my kind of man."
Michael Bolton gestured to Nixon. "I love a good Sauvignon Blanc myself."
Nixon squinted at Michael Bolton. "What?"
Michael smiled a beaming smile. "I always love a good white wine. Nothing too tart. But anything French'll work for me. What about you?"
Nixon shook his head. He turned to me. "What's wrong with this guy?"
I chuckled. "I hear you, Dick."
Nixon elbowed me. "I mean, I thought he had a sissy boy haircut. But what's all this wine crap?"
I nodded my head solemnly. "I know it."
The secret service guy clicked off his walkie-talkie. "Good news, gentleman. The elevator should come back any sec--"
Just at that moment the elevator lurched forward again. I stumbled sideways, but Nixon grabbed my arm to steady me. I looked up at him.
The secret service guy gestured with his walkie-talkie. "They were just switching the power downstairs or something."
We all nodded. "Uh-huh."
Nixon turned to me. "Listen, I'm sure this whole show's gonna be a piss-poor bore, but why don't you join me at my table. We'll knock back a couple more glasses."
"Thanks, man. That'd be swell--that is, just as long as there's room for my lady friend..."
Nixon pointed at Michael Bolton. "You mean blondie, there?"
I laughed. "Right, right." I chuckled. "No, seriously, I'm here with a lovely redhead. She's a singer. Her name's Sheena Easton."
Nixon nodded. "Oh, right. Terrific girl. Did the James Bond song."
"She's the one."
"Great. She and Pat will get along fabulously."
We rode the elevator up to the ballroom.###