Monday, October 8, 2007

Three Times a Lady

A shocking phone call awakens my love!
by Charlie Leck

An acquaintance called at about mid-morning; that is, someone I know quite well, but I wouldn't call him a friend. He's an eccentric sort of guy who only crawls out of the woodwork when he needs something. I answered the phone while deeply involved in the Sunday paper. I hadn't heard this voice in so long and it startled me at first, because it was so personal and I couldn't place it. It had also grown significantly older.

"Charlie, is that you?"

"Yes! Yes it is."

"My god, I didn't think you and Anne would still be together! Is she there?"

"No, no she isn't. Who is this?"

My foundations were rocked somewhat and I felt an odd tremble pass through me. He was going on about some kind of nonsense and I was imagining the dreadful concept of life without my wife – this woman with whom I lay in bed last night in such peacefulness and satisfaction. I closed my eyes as he chattered and I saw her as I saw her in Paris nearly 30 years ago – as she is pictured in the pencil drawing above. Oh my, I was left breathless by her. Walking then along the le Boulevard Saint Germain with her, holding her hand, feeling her unmistakable love, is a memory I'll never forget. We strolled through Les Jardins du Luxembourg and I was tormented by the thought that this woman would not be a part of my life – for the rest of my life. This was the gentlest, kindest and most generous human being I had ever encountered; yet she was a tower of strength and independence. If I could have sung, I would have.

"I have often walked down this street before, but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before."

We had lunch in a wonderful little seafood restaurant across from the entrance to l'Odeon. It was one of my favorite places and I wanted to introduce her to it. I was living in Paris and she had come to visit me and, as it turned out, to take me back to the states. It was our first time together for more than a date. I'll never forget looking across at her on that day, as we awaited our luncheon, and thinking that I had never before seen anyone so perfectly beautiful. I introduced her to my favorite waiter and told him, en francais, that she was my 'total love.' She didn't understand the French and she was amazed at the attention he gave her.

A year later, we took four weeks to honeymoon in France. During this period, between our two experiences in France, Lionel Richie and the Commodores had recorded Three Times a Lady and it became an enormous hit and my constant theme song.

"Your once, twice, three times a lady, and I love you.
Yes, you're once,
twice, three times a lady,
And I love you
I love you.

When we are together the moments I cherish,
with every beat
of my heart.
To touch you, to hold you, to feel you, to need you.
There's nothing to keep us apart.

You're once, twice, three times a
lady, and I love you.
I love you."

We traveled all over France to celebrate our marriage. We dined in the simplest, little place in the south of France, called Chez Yvette, where cows, being marched to pasture land, paraded down the street in front of us. I will never forget that wonderful summer evening. I can remember looking at her across that little, sidewalk table from me and loving her so enormously; yet, today I love her even more deeply than then when I did not think I could love her more.

That was nearly thirty years ago. It seems but only a moment. To her I sing the words that Lionel Richie made so popular.

"Thanks for the times that you've given me.
The memories are all in my

You're once, twice, three times a lady, and I
love you.
I love you."

And, when we do "come to the end of our rainbow," which I hope is many years from now, I'll still be singing these remarkable lyrics to you.

The idiot on the telephone was still prattling something from somewhere far, far away.

"Yes, yes. I'll tell her you called. Goodbye."

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