Today (Sept. 1) is Lily Tomlin’s 67th birthday, so let’s all take a moment to appreciate her genius.
Most recently, Tomlin was a marvel in A Prairie Home Companion, my favorite movie of the summer. Watching Tomlin and Meryl Streep play
singing sisters is such an enormous pleasure. Their first number, “My Mississippi Home,” is so fun you don’t want it to end (and Tomlin’s bass harmonies are not too shabby). But their second duet, “Goodbye to My Mama,” will cleft your heart in twain.
Five years ago, Tomlin was in San Francisco with her extraordinary one-woman show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. The opening came very shortly after the events of Sept. 11, and The Search was like a spiritual balm. Connecting to Tomlin’s universe (and to that of her partner/writer/director, the elusive, equally brilliant Jane Wagner), was exactly what we needed.
Shortly after my review of the show ran, I heard from some friends that Tomlin had been on a morning radio show (I think it was KFOG – at least I hope it was KFOG, the only morning radio crew I can stomach) and she had read pretty much my entire review on the air. I was kind of knocked out by that because Tomlin has been a hero of mine for as long as I can remember (I may be the only fan of The Incredible Shrinking Woman)
Long story short: I did the very un-professional thing and went back to see the show, hung around afterward and met Tomlin. I introduced myself, and her first words to me were astonishing: “Oh, I’m so glad I didn’t know you were in the audience. I’d have been so nervous!” Maybe she says that to everyone, but it sure made me feel important.
Then, when she signed my program (yes, I’m a complete fan/nerd – I even had a picture taken), she wrote, “Thanks for being such a good writer.”
For me, that was better than winning the Pulitzer.
One more thing about that meeting: when she hugged me, I couldn’t help noticing that she smelled extraordinarily good.
So Lily, if you’re reading (and of course she’s reading — isn’t everyone?), happy birthday. Thanks for all the work through all the years. There’s still a whole lot more to come. And please, PLEASE come back to the Bay Area soon.