"Sometimes I think, but not in an unkind way, that nothing really ever happened to me
before I was married."
Sandra Dee dropped her suitcase-sized purse to the floor and slumped back into the large leather sofa. She shrugged off a purple, cable-knit coat-sweater and looked at her watch.
"Now remind me in plenty of time," she said. I've got to pick Bobby up at noon, exactly, Lord help me
if I'm late."
A secretary popped in and handed her an invitation to a party for a magazine editor a few nights hence.
Sandra read it and sighed. "I would like to attend," she said. "But my husband would not like me to attend. So-o-o, I do not think I will."
What about the cryptic remark she had made when she came in, that nothing had ever really happened to her before she was married.
"Oh," she said, as though she had already forgotten it. "That! I was thinking, on the way over, how different it is since I've become Mrs. Bobby Darin. I was lucky. Oh, so lucky. Out of all the hundreds of stories written about me I remember only one, just one, that was unkind. I realized last night that of all the stories written about Bobby, only one that I saw was nice to him.
"Now, the stories are no longer about just me or just about Bobby. It seems to be a fad at the moment to take pot-shots, not at me, not at Bobby, but at us.
"Bobby says I shouldn't let the stories bother me. He can take them. I can't.
"There are sides to Bobby only I know. Simple honesty, for example, is almost a thing with him.
"The other night Bobby was reading the paper, puffing on his pipe. I was studying my lines for the next day. I wanted to finish and get to bed early because I had to get up early. Anyhow the phone rang and Bobby answered it. It was for me.
"'Tell them I'm out,' I whispered, 'but that I'll be back later.'
"Bobby looked at me for a moment, shaking his head slowly. Then turned back to the phone and said, 'Sandra would rather not answer the phone right now. She's tied up. Would you call her back later?'
"You see the difference between Bobby and me? I blurted out the fib because I didn't want to refuse the caller and make him feel unimportant by not coming to the phone.
"Bobby's character can't bear that. You know exactly where you stand with Bobby at all times. He tells the truth.
"And his determination is like the Rock of Gibraltar. When he says something you can bet your life that's the way it's going to be.
"Not long ago we attended a big movie premiere in New York. Bobby agreed to go only after I agreed there'd be no pictures taken of us together. I agreed because I felt certain that once we got there, Bobby would relent and not mind if photographers did get us as Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Darin.
"The moment we arrived the photographers started to run for us. I said, 'Here they come, Bobby.' Bobby politely stepped aside. They were welcome to take pictures of me or pictures of Bobby -- but no pictures of us together. If it had meant a million dollars worth of publicity, Bobby still wouldn't have changed his mind that night. That's the way he is.
"We've gotten so many requests for pictures of our home. I see no harm in it, but Bobby says no.
"'Sandra,' he says, 'if we let them in the front room, then they'll want to shoot the bedroom, and before we know it they'll have me in the tub with you scrubbing my back for them.' So no pictures of our home."
Just then, the phone rang. It was Nellie, her maid. Nellie wanted to know what she wanted to do about the 25 guests expected for dinner tomorrow night.
"I'll call you back, Nellie," Sandra said. "I haven't made up my mind whether we serve or have buffet."
Sandra smiled at me. "That's when you know you're really married," she said, "when you have less than a day to arrange a dinner for twenty-five people."
Sandra lit a cigarette. "As I was saying, I've learned a lot about Bobby in the last few months, but much of it was the result of things I knew about him before we were married.
"For instance, when we were dating in Rome, Bobby used to say to me, 'C'mon, let's walk." And he would take me to the section of the city where the poor children played to forget their hunger.
"I knew Bobby would take me there and I didn't want to go. Not because I don't like walking, but because the sight of those poor kids made me feel guilty. It just didn't seem right that I was eighteen years old, that I had a beautiful home, fur coats costing thousands of dollars, that I'd never been hungry and that, very likely, I earned more in a month than some of those Italian children would earn in a lifetime.
"Bobby knew I preferred not to walk on those streets, but he insisted.
"'Look Sandra,' he would say, 'it's the only thing that bothers me about you. All your life you've been protected from worry and want. You wouldn't know what to do if things didn't break for you. You ought to know about poverty, you ought to know what some people must face every day of their lives, the fight they must put up just to stay alive.'
"It was a shock to me. Oh, I know some people have it more difficult than others, but I never realized how much the sight of two little boys fighting over a crust of bread would affect me. You see, they weren't little boys any more -- they were, for the moment, animals battling for survival.
"Each time we went to those streets, Bobby would call a small group of the kids over and give them just about all the money he had in his pockets. Then we'd have to run to escape the mob of children who, once they knew what Bobby was doing, swarmed on us like a thousand bees after honey.
"Bobby saw something in those kids that I didn't -- that I couldn't see.
"Bobby saw himself fifteen years ago.
"I didn't realize it then, but I do now. As time went by Bobby did things that helped me understand this.
"At a restaurant, for instance, Bobby must pick up the check. At first I thought like everyone else that Bobby, my husband, had a pocketful of new money and wanted to show off. That wasn't it at all. He wants to pay the check because it pleases him. The mere fact that he can spend money delights him. To have money enough to pay for someone else's food is one of the greatest thrills of his life.
"When he goes to a super market he wants to buy everything in the store. I have seen him go out and buy stuff I know we will never eat. Why at home we have a stock of canned goods that you just wouldn't believe!
"Sometimes I think he does these things just to keep reassuring himself that it is all true, that his success is not a dream, that he is no longer a poor boy living in a poor neighborhood.
"Not long ago I found him walking around, looking at all the windows in the house. I thought this is a crazy thing for a man to do in his own home. I watched him for a while and discovered that he was examining each pane of glass. He'd shake his head in quiet wonder and say, almost to himself, 'Gee, they're no cracks.'
"I never knew what the word home meant until I married Bobby. He would never leave the house if he didn't have to. Sometimes he'll go from room to room, the way people do if they're sight-seeing in a castle. He looks out the windows, touches the walls, sits in one chair after another, then goes into the living room lights up his pipe and seems to inhale the contentment that glows around him.
"At other times I will walk into the house and everything is going. The stereo is going, the TV in the den is going, there is something cooking in the kitchen -- everything that works in the house is in action. I ask Bobby why? He laughs and says, 'I never had more than one room.'
"It's confusing and noisy, but Bobby is happy and that's all that matters.
"Any new thing in the house is like a new toy for him. A new table, a new chair, a rug, an appliance, silverware -- anything. I take them for granted because I've always had them. But the slightest trinket we buy becomes an experience for my husband. You should see the look on his face when he examines each new knick-knack. He's so happy, I want to cry.
"My biggest problem, in my marriage, I guess is that there is really nothing I can do for Bobby. Oh, I know that, as a woman, I must try to make him happy -- but it never seems enough.
"If I'm with him during a recording session, I'll bring him a cup of coffee. Well, you'd think I'd brought him a birthday cake.
"But that's Bobby. Any little thing anyone does for him impresses him. I bought him a kookie hat and he gets more pleasure wearing the hat than he does wearing an expensive watch I gave him a few weeks ago."
Sandra suddenly hesitated, and seemed not sure she wanted to say what he was going to say. Then, as though she had made up her mind, she said, "You know, Bobby didn't want me to do this interview. He did not forbid me to do it, but I'm sure that if it had been his choice, I wouldn't be here."
Sandra grinned,"you know I have a funny feeling I'm disobeying my husband."
Then her face went serious. "Bobby petrifies me. I'm prejudiced, but he has so much talent and intelligence that some times I just sit and look at him in awe. If I am in a room talking and he suddenly walks in, I keep quiet. Can you imagine me, Sandra Dee, sitting in a room where there are people and not saying a word for the whole evening? But it's happened. And it will happen again because I am fascinated by my husband."
A funny little frown crossed Sandra's brow. "There are other times when I keep silent while Bobby is around," she said, "but not for the same reason. I'm not sure I know what it is except that I'm simply at a loss for words.
"It's unbelievable, but I've discovered that when you love someone there are times when you don't
know what to say.
"There's another side of my marriage that surprises me. I like not being equal to Bobby. I like having so much respect for his judgment that I never doubt him. So I like being his wife and I like
his being my husband.
"Right now we are together every possible moment. From here I will pick him up and be with him the rest of the day. I know it won't be this way after the first few years, but we're together so much now because we want to know each other as completely as possible.
"These days Bobby will say, 'Come with me, stay with me, learn about me, know me.' And now I suddenly understand that Bobby is so honest he feels it only right that his wife should know his weaknesses as well as his strengths.
"You see, Bobby is not afraid to accept the fact that he is not perfect and he's willing to let me know it.
"We battle over some things. I don't always agree with his approach to some matters, but I never have to fear arguing my point of view.
"I don't believe Bobby is right, for example when he turns down requests for interviews and photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Darin. He says no. I say yes.
"I love him -- but I can't say he is right when I think he is wrong.
"I don't beg or plead or use the usual womanly wiles to make him come round my way. He doesn't do it to me, and I don't want him to change, even for me."
Sandra looked at her watch. I was 11:40 a.m. exactly.
"Eeeeeek!" she squealed. "He'll destroy me if I'm late and I promised to pick him up on the button.
She gave me a hug and ran out the door, purse, sweater and blonde hair flying.
Bobby Darin has and will probably continue to be the subject of awe and criticism. But in spite of everything, he has accomplished something which, in the end may be more important than anything he's ever done. Bobby Darin has taught the girl he married how to live and love, how to be a woman and how to be happy.
They don't hardly make those kinds of guys any more.
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