You’ve read plenty about this lady elsewhere. She’s the mother of Zachary, whom I got to know and love as my own son.
I first met Nicolette at the house of her sister Adeline and husband John Procter in Palmers Green, devout Jehovah’s Witnesses all, a few days after her mother had dropped dead in the street of a brain hemorrhage. I soon found that Nicolette had been “disfellowshipped” and that meant had fallen from grace by order of the all-male elders (sounds like an Arthur Miller play!) and that meant cold-shouldered by her faith, her friends, and her family. And within a few months, I made a bad decision. As Just William would have said, “I was only tryin’ to help”.
When the baby turned out to be a boy, it reopened for me an old wound, the loss of my little son Jonathan to my first wife, all those years ago in Toronto, soon after I’d married Lynn. I longed for a relationship with this new baby, and he quickly became a substitute for what I had missed. Kay had refused me all father/son contact during his growing up years back in the 60’s and 70’s, despite Canadian court orders. I was never tested for paternity of Zach, but I had no reason to think that I was not his father at that time, certainly I accepted that duty and obligation. And that was how I became his father, never mentioned around the house, nobody was supposed to know. At least that was the pretense. Nicolette prepared a document appointing me his guardian, and in the event of her death taking full custody of him. (I’ve seen no update or change in that plan. Except that now I don’t know where they are. “Not probative” Judge Gold would have proclaimed.)
I remember an occasion early on, when Jonathan came to visit. They were sitting together on the couch. Jonathan was then 32, Zach 4 . And I thought how strange, Jonathan at Zach’s age knew me, knew I was his father, reached for me, but a relationship of any kind was denied. And here is Zach, all these years later, with me every day, calling me Papa, and yet not knowing I really was his father.
The day came when he and his adoring and adored sister Annabel were watching their favorite television show, South Park. It was February 25, 1998. Zach was 7. Squeals of laughter and I joined them on the couch. In this episode, Cartman begins to wonder why all the kids at school have fathers but him. He asks his mother who his real father is, and she tells him about the night of the drunken barn dance, when he was conceived. She’d had sex with just about every man in town that night, and DNA tests have to be performed to determine who the real father is, but it costs $3,000. How can Eric raise the money to learn the truth . . . and I looked at Zach, he was silent, and tears were rolling down his cheeks. And I knew then that the time had come when he had to know.
Nicolette looked elsewhere for a love life, and certainly that was her right. Lynn and I had hoped to take her down the aisle with “a nice rich Jewish lawyer”, we’d say. But that didn’t happen, she chose, instead, porn king Al Goldstein. Al Goldstein at NNDb A friend, I thought, of ours, whom we’d help to keep out of jail after his trial for obscenity in Kansas back in 1975.
He’d paid Nicolette money to accept deliveries at a new Beverly Hills apartment he was setting up in 1993, while he was away. Then later he called me from his home in Florida, gloating, and threatened me with exposure, which would have been sure to bring Lynn down. I was hugely concerned, and called her sister Adeline in London to fill her in and bring her up-to-date on the truthful story. “Get rid of him at all costs” she told me.
Nicolette wanted to settle down with him in Florida, with Zach of course then about 2 years old, and hoped to become his fifth wife. To get an idea of what Zach’s future life would have been like, well, this will give you an idea (if you’re over eighteen!), an interview with Al Goldstein. Yes, he’s quite a character, a good writer, and very Jewish funny. Which makes him very dangerous. It took a lot of persuasion to get her to drop the idea. She adored him. Mind you, he took her to the mansion, and let her drive his flame red Porsche with the gun emblazoned on the side, and gave her his credit card while he was out of town.
Much later, unbelievably, and secretly, it was our Topanga plumber from Guadalajara, a self-confessed drug dealer and gangster, or so he told me when I started to investigate. We had enormous reservations there too, of course. But he did eventually become this little boy’s father, with the blessing of Los Angeles Family Court and the stern admonishment of my own lawyers, reminding me of her right to choose whomever pleased her the most.
This newsworthy photo was sent to me by the National Enquirer, their photographer clicking away from a concealed position outside her home in Topanga early one morning.
Photo taken by the National Enquirer
I think about my own young life as a bastard, and there should be no black mark against us people. When I first found out from my mother – I was forty-two no less – I was ecstatic to hear about it (unlike my sister who I think felt great shame). People like us have gone on to great things, witness film director Carol Reed who led an interesting and creative life. Reaching further back, the same can be said of all 10 children of the Booth family, perhaps excepting John Wilkes. One of whom, notice, married a John Clarke.
As things stand now, and with a glance and a spit towards Los Angeles Family Court, I foresee a future for young Zachary of a downside as a second plumber’s mate, and an upside of becoming a WeightWatcher’s franchisee. Unless something happens to allow me to put influence into his life before it’s too late (I’m approaching 75.) I hope he is finding emotional independence.