By Bobbie Cimo
I think every girl growing up wishes she was like someone she has seen in the movies. Well, I was no exception to the rule. The moment I saw the original Gidget, starring Sandra Dee, I fell in with the character and with of course, her leading man, Moondoggie. Moondoggies have come and gone, but to me, nothing compares to the original one, James Darren. Or as his friends call him, Jimmy. Me, I just call him Gorgeous.
So in love with the movie, I named my first car â€œGidgetâ€. Once, I had a puppyâ€¦well, you guessed itâ€¦I named her Gidget, too. But I think the most memorable thing I did, in honor of my idol, was when I asked my father to put my bicycle up on cement blocks, lifting the wheels off the ground, so I could balance my feet on the pedals and pretend I was on my very own surfboard, shooting the curls. By the way, did I mention I wasnâ€™t a well-balanced child? .
As I was growing up, it saddened me when I grew past 5â€™2â€â€” because we all know Gidget was pint-size. We wonâ€™t even discuss the weight issue. Once on vacation in Hawaii, I tossed myself across a surfboard and asked a total stranger to take my picture. I donâ€™t know what was more dangerous, taking a chance that the stranger could run off with my camera, or me falling in the ocean and unable to swim! Luckily, they both turned out okay.
Years later in Vegas, with camera in handâ€”they didnâ€™t call me the Kodak Kid, for nothingâ€”I happened into Caesarâ€™s Palace, which was a top hangout for celebrities in its day. That particular night was no different. Everyone appearing in town was out to celebrate Tom Jonesâ€™ birthday. For those of you too young to know, Tom Jones was a young sexy singer who sang on stage while women tossed their undies to him. And in case youâ€™re wonderingâ€” No, I was not one of them.
I was standing in the marble corridor, in front of a bank of elevators that led to the penthouse suites, when I looked up and saw Tom Jones and my very own Moondoggie coming towards me. James Darren AKA Moondoggie, looking more gorgeous in person that I could have imagined, and he couldnâ€™t have been nicer when I asked if I could have my picture taken with him. What I remembered most, was that he held me tightly against his chest, as we posed together. Oh, and that my father referred to him as Bobby Darin to his faceâ€”which didnâ€™t go over all that well, since Bobby Darin had just died a few months before. But Moondoggie was quick to forgive. I wish I could say I remember all of our conversation, but because I have a tendency to zone-out whenever I become overwhelmed, I canâ€™t tell you what we talked about. All I know for sure is that the picture turned out beautifully and itâ€™s proudly displayed in my office at home to this day.
James Darren went on to star in several TV shows, and even became a successful television director. In the last few years he has revived his singing careerâ€” recorded a new CD and began making personal appearances tours.
A few years back, when I heard heâ€™d be appearing in Orange County, I decided to venture out to one of his performances. Not only did I have an excellent seat, but I managed to hook up with an aspiring Kodak Kid named Kim. From a younger generation then mine, she was just as in love with Moondoggie as I had been at her age. Kim offered to take a picture of me and Moondoggie as he signed my CD. Posing for the photo with him, I told him of my pictures from that night in Vegas. He said he had just been talking to Tom the night before and then he asked me if wouldnâ€™t mind sending copies of the photos to him. Me refuse Moondoggie? Never!
I dug up my old pictures and found the negatives. But when I had them develop, I found they were as yellow as Bucky Beaverâ€™s teeth before he used Ipana toothpaste. (This might be too old for our younger readers) After I had new negatives made from the original photos, I ended up spending $50.00! But, after all, it was for my idol!
I happily mailed the photos, but not before writing and rewriting the perfect note to go inside the packet. Several months passed without a word or a thank-you note. I worried that perhaps they had never reached him. Not only was I out $50.00, but my Moondoggie would probably think I had flaked out on him.
The following year ofâ€”2003, I think it wasâ€”I learned James Darren would be appearing at an outdoor concert at the Santa Monica Park. I dragged my sister along, insisting she had to see him in concert. He had gotten older, but looked just a delicious as he did in his youth. Again, I got an excellent seat. And after the concert was over, I went over to where he was signing autographs. I waited until nearly everyone had left before asking if he had remembered the pictures I had promised, and if he had gotten them. My heart sank when I heard him say, in a matter fact tone, â€œYeah, I did get them.â€ Is that all he could say to me? But then he said, â€œDonâ€™t go away. Can you wait a moment?â€
After he finished signing his last autograph, I went around the table to stand next to where he was seated. He turned and looked up at me. Then, in a most sincere voice, he said, â€œThank you so much for sending those pictures to me.â€ I answered politely, â€œYouâ€™re welcome.â€ Just as I turned to walk away, Moondoggie got up from his chair and took hold of my hand and slowly pulled me near. In the fashion of a Gidget movie, he brushed his lips against mine…and sweetly kissed me on the mouth.
What could be more perfect but to be standing next to the Pacific Ocean, being kissed under the stars by Moondoggie? Iâ€™m almost certain if he had his fraternity pin, he would have asked me to wear it. Just like with Sandra Dee, I would have replied, â€œOh-boy, would I!â€
And thatâ€™s how this Gidget finally got her Moondoggie.
OCC/RWA Program’s Director
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