Wow, Bronnie’s dad and I have a lot more in common than using paper towels as napkins and liking canned fruit. Turns out he’s had three of his screenplays made into films (Nola, The Warrior Class, and Reunion), and at least one of his plays produced at one of my favorite off-Broadway theatres (59E59); he also directed Waiting for Godot at the Actor’s Studio, to rave reviews, and represented Henry Kissinger and Katherine Graham (the old editor of the Washington Post), when he was a lawyer. He and his wife started the Soho Press in the eighties, and his wife (who was turned away from Yale after she was accepted, when they found out that she was only fourteen) discovered Edwidge Danticat. I love this kind of man: brilliant, curious, hungry, and unstoppable. Sydney Pollack, my old boss, was like that: like, “Life is so fun! Let’s do something amazing—right now!” It’s very good to be reminded that that is a possibility.
Anyway, it’s confusing: I’m supposed to be The Help, but we’re gabbing. I did leave when he ate his tuna sandwich tonight (which he made himself from his chair—I just took down the ingredients from the shelves and washed the tomato), so he wouldn’t make a spectacle of himself sandwich-eating. I would like to make him nicer food—everything comes out of a can or a box—but he’s just not interested in that. He did invite me to have lunch with him tomorrow (reheated spaghetti and meatballs that his sister brought over), and that’s intimidating. I really do like being the strange, slightly wild woman who can’t find the canned apricots even though they’re right in front of me; it’s a little less comfortable for me, at the moment, having to keep up the pretense of being a regular, functional person. I mean, honestly, I did step into the den to take half a Xanax tonight between the sandwich and the canned apricots.
But I wanted to report on Madison Avenue in the seventies and eighties, which I took two walks on today, because Bronnie’s dad lives up there. Oh my God. In one window there was a real fur desk. In another window there was mannequin in patchwork pants and a bow tie, with his headless date in a hot-pink pleated skirt. There was half a block of animated polar bears in Santa costumes (one looked like he was humping a fallen tree, but I think he was supposed to be snoring), and a clothing store for a wide-variety of wealthy or wannabe babies: there was the store for perfect preppy kids, the store for the lederhosen kids, the store for kids who aren’t allowed out without bows in their hair, the store for the Jon Benet Ramsey kids, and the store for the kids with trashy moms.
On the other hand, in the subway on 86th and Lex was woman noisily, animatedly begging for money with her silent, twelve-year-old daughter sitting painfully blankly beside her. I bet she would like a bow in her hair and a plate of reheated spaghetti and meatballs.