As I stepped off the plane onto the Miami Airport tarmac, the humidity and the scent of gardenias transfixed me for a moment.
“We have to be at Trump’s in a couple of hours,” Izzy barked at me.
“I’ll get the bags and meet you at the rental car pickup,” I replied.
All the bags arrived, which cleared the first hurdle. I piled them on a baggage cart and met Izzy at the Hertz counter.
“Here’s the contract. Take the shuttle bus and get the car. I will be waiting outside for you. I don’t feel like driving today,” Izzy said.
Hurdle number two cleared.
The ride to West Palm was pleasant. I drove on 98 East over a long narrow bridge past Bingham Island onto South Ocean Boulevard to the Mar-a-Lago Club. Izzy was resting her head on her folded arms, propped on the open window of the car door with her hair blowing in the breeze. When we arrived, we were greeted by a Hispanic woman who told us to wait in the lobby.
“Ivana will be right out. She is running a little late today.”
We both looked around the ornate lobby. An excess of marble, gold leaf, chandeliers, oriental rugs, and adorned with large Flemish tapestries, similar to ones I had seen at the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park in New York.
“Posh,” I said, turning to Izzy.
“Very,” she replied. “Only it’s fake.”
“Any idea where you’re going to shoot?” I asked.
Izzy looked at me. “The lobby works for me. I just want to get this over with so we can get to the hotel.”
“Works for me. I’ll get the lights.”
Ivana came out to greet us with her son Donald Junior. She was dressed in a white gown and wearing diamond studs. Little Donald reminded me of the Gainsborough painting “The Blue Boy.” He was wearing blue silk nickers with knee-high white stockings and a white ruffled shirt. He was about 8 years old.
Ivana extended her hand to Izzy and said in her European accent, “Vell hello Izzy. It is nice to meet you. I am a big fan of your vork, and Donny and I are looking forward to have you take our portrait. Zhis is Donny Junior and ve vould also like for him to be in ze voto.”
“Sure,” Izzy said, smiling.
“And who is zis young man?” Ivana said, looking at me.
“This is Sam. He is assisting me today.”
Ivana extended her hand to me and for some insane reason I took it and ritualistically kissed it. “It is a pleasure to meet you,” I said. Everyone was startled, including myself. Izzy rolled her eyes at me, and Ivana stepped back. “Vat a sveet boy,” she said.
I couldn’t believe I did that. I had seen it in so many films. Maybe Izzy would fire me and that will be that. I could get back to a normal life.
To break the awkwardness, I said I would go to set up the lights.
When I came back to the lobby Izzy was sitting on the red crushed velvet couch with Ivana. Donny Junior was off with the nanny.
“Excuse me, Izzy. Where would you like me to set up the lights?” They both looked up at me.
“Right here. I want to photograph the family sitting on this couch. Ivana, what time is Donald showing up?”
“He vill be here soon. He’s out at ze club talking business or some zing. He never stops vorking, that man. So full of ideas.”
I set up the portrait lights and some auxiliary lights to illuminate the ornate background. Just as I was about to load the film back, I heard a booming voice from behind.
“Ivana, my love, I am so sorry I’m late. I was meeting with some new clients about a property I’m interested in. Did I miss the photo?”
“No, not at all, Donny. This is Izzy and ve have had a lovely chat about zhis and zhat. I think ve are almost ready for the shoot, isn’t that right Izzy?”
Izzy looked at me and I gave her a thumbs up.
“About ready. We just need to find your son.”
“Donny, Donny. Come here sveetie. Ve are ready for ze voto.”
“I only have about five minutes, then I have to get back to this meeting, Izzy, so make it quick,” Trump said in a brusque manner.
I could tell Izzy was not happy with his order and wondered how she would respond. She looked at me and asked if the camera was ready and I nodded my head.
“OK, now I want Donald standing behind Ivana, and Ivana, you are sitting on the red couch and little Donny is sitting on your lap.”
From the soon to be published book ” Leaving Cleveland” ©Steven H. Begleiter 2022