I received a lovely letter from a reader named Al Crichton, who mentioned his favorite column is the one I’m reprinting below. It’s five years old and when I re-read it, I found myself giggling, too.
“You’re an idiot.”
That was my wife’s, the beautiful Judy Licht’s, sort of lukewarm reaction to the greatest idea I have ever had. Did that stop me? No sir. I have an idea that can change the whole economy of the East End: We all know the White Sands Hotel Resort, a famous “sneak-away-for-a-quickie” spot nestled in the oceanfront dunes of Napeague, was in the news this week with the sexiest, juiciest story to come out of the East End in years. The New York Post summed it up with the headline “Beauty and the Priest.”
It seems a 79-year-old priest named Eugene Clark, who was a big deal Rector at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, got caught (let me state this as diplomatically as I can) shacking up with his beautiful, married honey, 44-year-old Laura DeFilippo, in the hotel hideaway. They got caught in the worst way: They were videotaped going into a motel room, and videotaped coming out of the room four-and-a-half hours later. She came out looking 20 years younger, completely refreshed and wearing a sexy pair of short shorts—a change from the outfit she wore going into the room. He came out looking 20 years older, wearing different clothes and a “Thank You God” smirk on his face.
But this is not about a priest caught with his collar down. This is about the White Sands Resort. My big idea is we turn it into a shrine. Don’t smile; this can be the biggest money-making deal in East End history. A year-round business. Shrines are big-money operations. Lourdes, the Yankee Stadium of shrines, takes in hundreds of million of dollars a year as pilgrims pay top dollar, hoping a trip to Lourdes will cure them of what ails them. “Throw away your crutches” is the Lourdes motto, but as of now they say nothing about getting rid of your handicapped parking privileges.
Let’s look at what makes your average shrine into a crowd pleaser: It takes a miracle. You cure your standard, run-of-the-mill leper and you’ve got your miracle and you’re on your way to the bank. I say on July 21, while you and I were at work or at the beach or sitting in traffic on Route 27, a miracle—a genuine miracle—was happening at the White Sands Resort. We have a priest and a beauty. He’s 79, she’s 44, they spend four-and-a-half hours in the motel room, and you’re telling me this is not a miracle? Come on. This is a serious shrine waiting to happen.
Who will come to our White Sands Shrine for a sexual cure? Everyone. Men over 50 will rush from all over the world to be cured in the Hamptons. Our motto will be, “Throw away your Viagra, Cialis, Levitra.” Women will be rushing to our White Sands Shrine, too, with many a beautiful 44-year-old searching for Mr. Right—that 79-year-old man who will slowly, ever so slowly, sweep her off her feet.
The White Sands Shrine will be set up so that from a mile away, one can hear the speakers blaring the same song over and over 24 hours a day: “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye.
Oh baby, now let’s get down tonight
Ooh baby, I’m hot just like an oven
I need some lovin’
And baby, I can’t hold it much longer
It’s getting stronger and stronger
And when I get that feeling
I want sexual healing
Sexual healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine
Helps to relieve my mind
And think of all the commercial possibilities. We’ll sell a full line of Father Clark products: Sheets (king- and queen-sized), where you can perform your own miracles. Vitamins, to give you that “Father Clark get up and go” at an age where most men’s “get up and go” has gotten up and went. The White Sands Shrine book club will feature Laura DeFilippo’s book, 40 Excuses To Give Your Clueless Husband While You’re Boffing a 79-Year-Old Priest. I have plans for posters, maps, diets, vacation packages and—last but certainly not least—a movie produced by the White Sands Shrine.
I spoke of my vision for the White Sands Shrine film at a luncheon with two brilliant moviemakers—Nick Pileggi, a great author/screenwriter, and Gene Saks, a world-class film director and actor. At one point, Saks said, “I see the movie and I’m thinking of Jack (Nicholson) playing the part of Father Clark and Angelina (Jolie) as Laura DeFilippo.”
Then the three of us blurted out the title at the same time: “FATHER DOESN’T ALWAYS KNOW BEST!” Then we high-fived each other and went back to drinking.
Note: I just read this column to my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht, and I got her to modify her original statement slightly. This time she said: “You’re even a bigger idiot than I thought.”
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