Perhaps some of you remember a rather obscure film from several decades ago called My Dinner with Andre. It was a really intense movie about two guys who have a conversation over dinner on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
A two-hour movie about two guys talking over dinner…’nap time’, you may think…but the film was brilliant (and nobody gets blown up or vaporized and there are no zombies).
What follows are a few recollections of My Dinner with Chuck:
I was sipping a Greenpoint IPA at the Beacon Bar on Broadway and 74th St. I looked at my iPhone…twenty minutes to the end of happy hour. I was waiting for my old friend, Chuck, from my home town, Owego, NY. I saw him last at our 50th class reunion in September of 2015. Before that, perhaps we crossed paths at a less significant reunion (although I believe all class reunions are significant life events)…I couldn’t remember. The bottom line is that I haven’t really had time to speak with my friend in fifty years!
He lives in one of the Carolinas now…as do many of my class mates who moved to the south and mid-south to escape the rigors of New York State winters. His son (who lives in New Jersey) had scored tickets to the biggest hit on Broadway right now...Hamilton.
It was a matinée and Chuck said he’d love to meet up with me while I was in the City. He had lived in the “hood” back in the 1970’s, so he knew the Beacon Theater and the adjacent bar.
I took another sip on the IPA. I looked into a mirror on the column in front of me. I see two guys walk in. Heavy set…like Mafia hit men. It was Chuck and his son.
We moved to a small table and chatted until my wife joined us a few minutes later. Chuck looked great for his age and his son looked a Hollywood actor…like a young Jude Law. Funny, but his son is a lawyer (Jude Law?? get it?).
Chuck’s son made a call and soon a female friend of his appeared. She was a dentist. I tried to show her my infected back molar but my wife stopped me from peeling my lip back too far.
The lawyer and the dentist went off and the three of us went to pick up a half-dozen slices of pizzas from a nearby joint. We went back to our apartment and had a dinner of pizza and beer. It wasn’t My Dinner with Andre, but we talked about so many things from so many years ago. We discussed one important detail: who was the prettiest girl in the class of “65…we decided it was…(do you think I’m an idiot to tell you?…that’s our secret). We never sang the Alma Mater but we recalled and exchanged memories that we had both forgotten…each in our own way. We laughed and had several hours and several really good slices of pizza.
Chuck kept saying how great it was to get together…I agreed.
His son called and said he was busy for the night. Luckily for Chuck, we had an extra bed in the downstairs room.
We stuffed two pillows and found a duvet. We sat at the top of a very scary spiral staircase and talked before I sent him down stairs for a good nights sleep.
I went into the fridge and found a bottle of frozen Poland Springs in the freezer. I figured it would thaw in about twenty minutes and Chuck would have nice sips of ice water before he fell asleep.
Later, I sat up in bed…I had given my fine old friend a block of ice…it wasn’t going to thaw for an hour. I felt guilty. I felt I let my friend down on one basic of hospitality…a drink of cool water. A few minutes later I put my head back on my pillow and hoped he get up on time and connect with his son and get back to New Jersey.
He did. He emailed a thank you note but didn’t mention the frozen bottle of water.
Will I ever do anything really right? I fell asleep think of the way he described how delicious the cantaloupes were back when we were in high school.
Memories…old friends…these are the things that drive me to sit and write this at 1:30 in the morning.