Bill Cosby never laid a finger on me.
I realize this goes against the hourly claims pouring in, but it’s the truth.
Sexual allegations are swirling against Bill Cosby but I’m not ready to pass judgment.
I was raised on “Fat Albert,” “The Cosby Show,” and Jell-O Pudding. My own dreams of being a stand-up comedian were fueled by watching Bill Cosby riff on how he fed his kids cake for breakfast – and they loved him for it. And I loved him for it too.
I met Mr. Cosby (everyone called him Mr. Cosby. Anything else would have been rudely familiar) when I was an agent representing children’s books at William Morris in NYC in the 90’s. My boss asked me to work with him on his “Little Bill” children’s book series and I was psyched. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.
We were in the conference room at Scholastic where we sat down at a large table and Mr. Cosby told them how they were going to publish these books. Whether or not they wanted them wasn’t even discussed. Of course they’d want to work with Bill Cosby.
After the meeting my boss told me he had to go to another meeting and suggested I ask Mr. Cosby to lunch.
And I did. “Mr. Cosby, would you like to go to lunch?”
“Yes. Let’s take my car.”
As we drove uptown he said “We’re going to eat at my townhouse. I’ll have my chef make us something.”
“Uh. Okay.” WOW! This was FABULOUS!!!!!!
We continued uptown and Mr. Cosby tapped the driver, “Pull over here.” We pulled up to a very small, very exclusive shoe store on Madison Avenue, Tanino Crisci.
He said “I have dinner with the Lakers tonight and need to get some shoes.”
“Um. ‘Kay.” I said, very aware I sounded like an idiot. I got out of the car and we walked into the store. He was greeted like royalty. He points at me and says to the sales guy “Let her try on anything she wants.”
Normally I wouldn’t think twice about trying on shoes. I love shoes. But I felt like if I tried anything on I would be obliged to buy a pair. And at $600/pair (and that was in the 90’s!) I wasn’t buying any shoes.
“Thank you, Mr. Cosby. But, I’m good.”
“Go on!” He said.
“No really. I’m fine.”
“Don’t insult me. Try something on you like.”
“I’m not really comfortable…”
He gave me a stern look – the kind of look my grandfather would give me when he was displeased. I did not want to displease him – especially since the head of my department had entrusted me with one of his biggest clients for lunch. I thought, “maybe this is what celebrities do. They shoe shop with their agents. They try on stuff together. They hang out.”
Okay. I could be cool about this. But I was definitely not buying shoes.
He pointed out a couple of pairs of women’s shoes to the salesman and said “She’ll try those.”
The salesman brought me the shoes and placed the beautiful little suede jewels at my feet.
I put them on. “Oh, they’re very pretty. Wow. That’s a comfy shoe. Okay. I’m done.” I started to take them off.
“We’ll take them.” He said.
“What?!?! “Mr. Cosby….” I said shaking my head. “I can’t accept this. My mom would kill me. My boss could kill me. That’s very generous of you but I can’t. Really.”
“Don’t insult me, Sarah. Take the shoes.”
It dawned on me. This was just a dream. Of course! DUH! If I were to tell a friend “I had the weirdest dream last night! I was shoe shopping with Bill Cosby and he bought me shoes.” Wouldn’t you laugh? I would. Because it’s impossible. It’s like Angelina Jolie showing up on your doorstep to braid your hair. It’s that strange.
“Um…Can I make a phone call?” I thought if I got up to make a phone call I could wake up. I don’t know why. I was in my 20’s. People in their 20’s are stupid.
The salesman pointed to a phone in the back of the store.
I called my (then) boyfriend. “You’ll never believe where I am.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m in a very expensive store on Madison Avenue with Bill Cosby and he wants to buy me shoes.” I whispered.
I know! This is a dream, right?! It’s SO WEIRD!!!! I pinched myself and mouthed “Ow!” My arm was turning black and blue from all of the pinching.
“WHAT DO I DO??!!!?!”
“Let him buy them!” he said. I should have figured. My future ex-husband loved a freebie.
“They’re like $600 bucks!”
“I know! I can’t take $600 shoes from Bill Cosby!”
“Sure you can!”
“I can’t! And I’m going to get fired.”
“You’re not going to get fired.”
“I’m totally going to be fired.”
“You’re not. He wants to buy you the shoes. If you don’t take them you’ll piss him off. THEN you’ll get fired. It’s not like $600 even means anything to him.”
“I’m very uncomfortable with this.”
“Take the shoes. Be uncomfortable in $600 shoes.”
“I’m going to vomit.” And I hung up.
And then I accepted the shoes. Mr. Cosby smiled. “Enjoy them.”
“Thank you, Mr. Cosby. This is really incredibly…”
He put his hand up to stop me. “Stop.”
“’Kay.” Obviously, my mother had not prepared me for the proper response in this scenario.
We got back into our waiting car and we drove to his townhouse where he had a delicious lunch made by his chef.
And we sat at his dining room table together, drank wine and ate lunch.
Just me and Bill Cosby. In his dining room. Hanging out.
I don’t remember the conversation. Just that the food was spectacular, he was fascinating, and the most personal exchange we shared was a brief conversation about my boyfriend.
The point of this story isn’t to say “I defend Bill Cosby because he bought me shoes.” I don’t for a second believe that Mr. Cosby is a saint. Nobody’s a saint (especially anyone who’s a comedian). But I just can’t reconcile the rumors with my own personal experience.
So, like everyone else, I’ll anxiously wait to see how this plays out. But unlike everyone else, I am going to wait for proof before I pass judgment.
Please, Mr. Cosby, don’t let me down.