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Extraordinary Meetings


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Coming back from the wine shop and grocery store this evening, I saw a tall, stocking-capped, familiar face emerge from the elevator in my building on 57th Street. “Jay Martel!” I said. He turned around. Slightly befuddled, he recognized me after a half-second. He had his current girlfriend or wife with him. Looked the same as when I last saw him in 1990. He’s been a TV writer since that time. Nickelodeon, then God knows what. Out in LA now. I asked where. “Fairfax and Olympic.”

Oh! I said, near Tim! Tim Hill, nephew of George Roy Hill, is a musician and director (a Muppet movie, something else) who was Jay’s best friend at Stanford. For a while in the 80s Jay and Tim and I and a half-dozen others had a comedy group in New York. Then I moved to the West Coast and England, and everyone else scattered.

I nearly moved to the mid-Wilshire area in LA in 97-98, when I was decamping from Seattle. But I changed my mind at the last minute and got my feet permanently immured in Manhattan.

Jay said he was back in New York to see The Gates (the Christo thing about to open), and that he really missed NYC. I said I’d made a big mistake not moving to LA in ‘98, coming back to New York instead. “But you’re here now,” he said, referring to the grand building in whose lobby we stood. “Yes, but I can’t get arrested in town here. Everywhere else, success always beckoned.”

We didn’t make any plan to get together again before he left town. Guess we weren’t very good friends. I suddenly felt like a very vague memory, and maybe an intrusive one as well. I saw him nearly every day for most of the 80s, first in connection with the American Bystander and then with chuckleheads and Chucklehead-related comedy activity, and he has probably not thought of me in ten years.

While it’s shocking and disappointing to discover I’ve left little footprint in people’s recollections, it’s reassuring as well. Here I drag myself through the day, brooding on all the embarrassing things I’ve done and the low opinion that others must have of me as a result. How pleasant to learn they haven’t wasted two seconds on me!

The other strange re-meeting was quite different. D*** E***, the Petite Powerhouse, had no trouble at all remembering me. She was a lively and eccentric girl I met when I was occasionally showing up at G. K. Chesterton discussions in 2000-2001. She later became a copy editor and headline writer at the NYPost, from which she was famously canned last month for working pro-embryo slants into articles she was editing. Her additions were pretty tame, according to this week’s issue of the New York Observer. It appears that the real reason she got canned was her outspoken opinions in her BLOG, if you can imagine such a thing.

I shot her an e-mail. We will catch up at the Frozen Monkey in Hoboken.

[Postscript March 20th: I have removed or disguised references to D*** E*** at her request, a request with which I can well empathize. It appears somebody linked with my site, and D*** thereupon found references to herself as well as to her monthly barfab on the Bowery.]

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