Monday, June 30, 2008

RUBY CHEZ LA PRINCESSE


I first met the Princess Titi Von Furstenberg when I was still managing the dining room at The Union Club in New York. George Pitard presented me to her with a long very impressive title. When a member invited someone special to the private dining room, I was always happy to greet them whether it was a bishop or simply, “ Mary, I'd like you to meet my brother."

George, one of my favorites at The Club had, as usual, a very animated group. The room was fairly busy and I forgot about them until she signaled me to come over.

“Do you think you could wrap these up for Albert? He’s downstairs in the coatroom". She had beautiful blue eyes and rolled them so sweetly, as she passed me her plate with two lamb chop bones.

When they were leaving, she held up the little package in aluminum foil and thanked me again. George then announced that I was an artist and that I was moving to Paris with my dog.

She asked me what kind of dog. I said “Ruby’s a… sort of a boarder collie". She said, "Call me when you get to Paris. George has my phone number".

Three weeks later, I crossed the Great Waters. I worried the whole trip for poor Ruby, caged in the baggage compartment down under.

After settling in a studio in Montparnasse, I called the Princess. I was surprized that she answered the phone herself, and that she remembered me.

She invited me to lunch the next day. I gladly accepted. Then she insisted that I bring my dog. I agreed.

I wasn’t worried that Ruby was a mutt. She was very pretty. Pretty and bad. She was, as you might say, overly eager. She did not understand "no".

Nor did I know how to give a command.

When we got out of the métro at Neuilly, it was pouring rain.

Her directions were good, but the walk was long. We arrived dripping wet. The butler opened the door cautiously.

" Un chien ? Albert est là."

"It’s a female" I assured him. He opened the door wide. The Princess was there to greet me.

She was thrilled to see Ruby. "Unleash her!" Disaster, I thought.

Ruby ran for the parlor and jumped up on the divan. I don’t know which Louis, but the cushions were satin.

"Get down !" The Princess yelled in her Texas twang. Ruby obeyed.

The room was filled with remarkable paintings. I was trying to look at them and keep track of Ruby as Albert chased her around chairs and under tables happily wagging his little dashund tail.

We went down to the lower level of her magnificent house filled with large abstracts of New York artist. I gasped as Ruby rushed toward a real tiger skin rug with the head – mouth open-teeth shining. The tiger didn’t respond to her barking. She then circled the pool with Albert at her tail.

She ran faster but was unable to get traction on the marble floor.

She slid around the corners. I was certain the two would end in the water. I looked down at my shoes. Would I have time to untie them if I had to jump in to save her. It was time to eat. We went upstairs to a bright room next the kitchen.

The Princess put a bowl on the floor and explained to Ruby that it was "hers". Ruby understood. Albert’s bowl was already there. She filled the two with what looked like Frolic.

Then we sat down and had lunch. The dogs behaved themselves.

She told me that she had had a dog just like Ruby a long time ago in Texas. She said that she still misses her. We had lunch many times in that room by the kitchen, often with Peter, her companion. I loved talking with her. She was smart and direct.

She was very kind when I came back to Paris after my mother’s funeral. I showed her the eulogy I had written, she said "Mary, Your mother’d be proud of you".

The Princess Titi von Furstenberg died last winter. When I read about it in The American Cathedral of Paris bulletin, I called her house. I wanted to express my condolences to some one. Peter wasn’t there. Nor was her maid for many years, Marie Madelyn.

The woman who answered the phone told me there would be a service for her in the Spring. I went to it and was lucky enough to meet her son.

I told him I had made a painting of the house "Chez Albert et Cannelle ".

He said, "Oh, you’re Blake. I was just looking at it this morning."

He invited me to the reception back at the house.

Written June 2007

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful description of the Princess
    who was in deed very funny. I miss her

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Anonymous, Yes I miss her also.

    ReplyDelete

Ruby

Ruby
Ruby chez la princess from paintingparis.blogspot.com