Rose, maker of beds for the stars, comes into the room with her pail. Eight years on the job at the Beverly Hills Hotels, and she has changed the sheets of the mighty and the powerful, the gorgeous and the merely stunning, the rich and the you-can't-believe-how-rich. She walks among them, picks after them, and says she would change places with none of them. No one levels with you in Beverly Hills.
Rose is short, built low to the ground and looks in the face like an Eastern European peasant - Polish or Ukrainian or something. She is dressed in a white uniform, pink sash around her waist. She begins her day in the morning by going from room to room, knocking lightly with her key, saying "room check." I have no idea what this is all about. I yell back, "room still here," and then I hear this scratching sound and then Rose goes away.
This has been going on for some days now, this little exchange between Rose and me. Finally we met. She knocked, asked if she could come in, opened the door and saw the typewriter.
"You going to wite about the Academy Awards"?
"No. Not me. I don't do that."
"Lots of people here for the Academy Awards."
"Yeah. The hotel is full of people. I saw George Segal this morning in the coffee shop."
"Oh movie stars," she said. "You get used to them. They're just people. They just make a living, same as you and me. I wouldn't change places with none of them."
"You'd rather make their beds?
"You bet. You think I want to be like wat's-er-name - Loretta Young? Have all those face lifts. Always have to be beautiful. Be afraid of getting old or something. Not me. Not me."
To this, I nod. I can be as nonchalant as anyone around movie stars. I did not tell rose that I didn't just see George Segal in the coffee shop - I studied him. He was wearing a blue running suit and he seemed very cheerful. He said hello to the people behind the counter and they said hello to him. This is a fact. His face, I have to report, seemed a bit puffy - maybe lack of sleep. He is not as good-looking in person as he is on the screen. Regrettably, this is also a fact.
"You wouldn't want to be rich?" I asked Rose.
"Sure, I'd like to be rich. But not like them. Believe me, I know. One minute they are up and then they come down. They never know when. They never know when they're not going to be able to get a part. They're always worrying. It's no life. I'd rather do this. Steady. You make your money." She makes, she says, $22.64 a day.
Later, in the lobby, I saw Meryl Streep. She did not look worried and unhappy. I also saw David Merrick and Steve Lawrence. Lawrence was getting his hair cut. I also saw Alan Alda and 23 people who, I think, are the hosts of television games shows. Either that or I know them from high school. Outside, the Rolls-Royces kept pulling up to the hotel. Of course, I do not envy these people their fine cars.
"Listen, tell me about the stars. What stars are in the hotel?"
"We're not supposed to tell. Reporters come up and ask and we never tell. They come here for privacy. Here's about the only place they can be themselves. That's why I don't envy them. They're always being watched. People are always watching them. Me, I like to walk around, be myself. Do what I want. They can't do that."
How true, how true. Just being myself I saw Jack Lemmon. He looked terrific. He walked through the lobby of the hotel and then stopped, and some photographers took pictures of him. It must have been terrible. He paused anyway, and then he was whisked away. A little bit later, I saw Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca coming out of the lounge. No one took their pictures. Rose would think they were fortunate. I'm not sure that's the way they look at it.
In the bar, I am a trifle know. It turns out that Tina Sinatra is dating someone named Richard Cohen. Sometimes the imposter Richard Cohen and I get mistaken for each other, and one time I did not get a telephone message because anyone could see that Richard Cohen had not arrived. What makes up for this is that I got a table in the lounge.
"You know the things they have to do, the stars?" Rose went on. "They have to do some pretty bad things. Almost criminal, some of the things they have to do. Producers, too. I wouldn't want to live like that. I met them all and some were pretty nice people. You know who I never see, though. The one with the blue eyes."
"You know, the one with the blue eyes. Newman, Paul Newman. He never stays here. Olivia de Havilland should be here. She's usually in 309. Maybe she goes in the bungalows. There's a lot of them here." She patted down the bed.
"You should go down to the lobby," she said. "You'd get a story there."
"I'd rather stay here and talk to you."
Rose smiled at that. Next day we talked again, and she asked me who I had seen. I told her of Meryl Streep and Steve Lawrence.
"There's supposed to be some rock group coming in. You know about them?"
I shook my head, no.
"Yeah, they're going to do some concert here."
I shrugged my shoulders. She shrugged hers. Rose smoothed the bed, grabbed her pail, and went on her way, cleaning the rooms of the stars. She says she wouldn't change places with any of them, but then she really can't. She's like you, like me, maybe a bit plainer. This is one bed she didn't make. It's the one she has to lie in.