Okay. Well I didn’t really spend the night with Clark Gable. It would be weird if I did since he died, oh, over 2 decades before I was even born. So one could say that I’m speaking metaphorically, I suppose. But is there some peculiar middle ground between literal and figurative? Because honestly, I spent the night under the same roof as Clark Gable once did, the very night of the Gone With the Wind premiere, in fact. And there was a picture of him arriving at the very hotel in which I slept, hung over the bed, so I’d say that counts, right?
Whatever. I felt as if I was in the presence of greatness, so I’m counting it. Night with Clark Gable, checked off the bucket list.
Let me first of all say, that I booked The Georgian Terrace Hotel purely on principle. Academy award winning actress, Hattie McDaniel, was denied a room at the hotel in 1939, while the rest of her Gone With The Wind castmates, Mr. Gable included, despite his protests, rested there in comfortable elegance. So why did I check into The Georgian Terrace on June 22, 2016 as a middle class, young, black woman? Simply because I can. We’ve come a long way since 1939 and as living proof of that, I felt that the least I could do for my predecessors, as long as I was planning on visiting Atlanta anyways, was to spend a night at the famed, historic Georgian Terrace.
Not only did I feel like I was in the presence of greatness at The Georgian Terrace Hotel, but I also felt like I was pretty great too. So what the valet parking was a little awkward. When is it not? Basically handing a complete stranger who is probably making minimum wage, at least $15,000 and trusting that they will handle it with care? That aside, we were greeted with a smile and enthusiastically informed that we had received a surprise upgrade. Our standard room with two double beds had been magically transformed into a two bedroom suite complete with full sized living room, kitchen, washer and dryer and walk in closet in the master bedroom. Yes, I walked through the door of that room, dropped my suitcase, sat indian style in front of the flat screen tv, on the white duvet of the king sized bed and thought, ‘Wow! If only Miss Hattie could see me now!’
I couldn’t wait to explore, but I just took a deep breath and relished in the moment. It was one that I will never forget as long as I live. In a word….Epic. But it only got better. There was the ballroom where the reception for the Gone With The Wind premiere was held. I walked the same halls that Clark Gable had walked and yes, I did in fact imagine that my jeans and tee shirt were changed into an elegant gown and that I walked delicately by his side in patent leather heels. Of course, I do tend to have a rather vivid imagination, but it was totally enhanced by the enchantment of my surroundings. The glitz, glamour, class and elegance of 1930’s Georgia carried me away better than Calgon ever could!!
Never have I fallen madly in love so fast as I fell in love with The Georgian Terrace. How long I stood there, in the doorway of that grand ballroom, I really couldn’t say. But when my pensive daydream of the party, dancing and food, was complete, I wandered down to the speakeasy style bar, Proof and Provision, in the basement of the hotel to steal away to a corner booth where I speculated about what it would be like to laugh with Clark Gable over some secret joke in the corner of the bar. Although, the music being piped through the speakers was Usher and not Billie Holiday or The Glenn Miller Band, the mood was not at all ruined. I closed my eyes and they were all there……Clark, Carol Lombard, Vivian Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier. Even Margaret Mitchell herself! Sitting in that booth with my glass of red wine, the ghosts of Hollywood’s Golden Age surrounding me, muddled with echoes of the old south, it was a surreal point in time that I will never be able to repeat, but that I will always be able to appreciate having had the opportunity to experience.
I rode the elevator back up to the sixth floor and climbed into the king sized bed of the master bedroom. The sheets were smooth and cool, the photo of Clark and motorcade hung high above the bed. When I turned on the tv it was late and Jimmy Fallon was well into his monologue. My friend was in the next room, but I had an instant of sorrow that I was undergoing this moment alone. Then I realized, if I was sharing this bed with someone, my husband perhaps, it would not be the same. It occurred to me that right then, I wanted to be selfish. I did not want to share this experience. I wanted it to be mine and mine alone. I didn’t want, and/or need someone to horn in on my fantasies and remind me that they weren’t real, that I am actually in 2016 and that had I been around in 1939, I wouldn’t have been allowed to be there anyways. So I snuggled into the blankets and smiled, I smiled, soaking it all in, making a memory for myself. I smiled that this time was mine to enjoy. Mine and Clark’s and nobody else’s. And as I drifted off to sleep, I counted my blessings that I had the unique opportunity to spend a night with Clark Gable.