Broken hearts. Who hasn’t had one? Who hasn’t wallowed in the drama?
Back when I was a mere ‘tot’ living in Manhattan, I freelanced as a rock’n’roll writer. It was peace and love and my “Almost Famous” period, though my articles showed up in Teen Beat, not Rolling Stone. I married an ‘older’ rock agent. We moved into a big apartment. I ‘unmarried.’ I got the apartment. And nothing else. I cried. I wallowed. I sulked. I pouted. Hell, I didn’t even get off my couch for a week – giving new meaning to couch potato- I could’ve peeled boiled and mashed myself.
But now I needed a steady job, so I found one... assistant to legendary showbiz manager/movie producer Marty Bregman’s then partner Norman Weiss. Marty’s and Norman’s clients were rich and famous… Barbra would call, Lainie would drop by, so would Woody or Faye or Alan Alda. Bette was moving from the gay ‘Baths’ to the stage and was often in the office. But I didn’t care. I sat at my desk and moped, wept and generally felt sorry for myself, especially if Faye called – one of Mr. Older Rock Agent’s dalliances (she once called my apartment late at night looking for Mr. O.R.A., explaining she needed to talk to him – they were ‘sympatico’ – a pretentious word under the circumstances, I thought).
Marty also represented other up and comers like Al. He was short, had dark hair and had just finished a little movie that hadn’t been released yet (‘Panic In Needle Park’). But right then he was heartbroken, broke and unemployed and would come up and hang out in Marty’s office or out by my desk. He moped. He sulked. He wallowed. We were ‘sympatico.’ We rarely talked. I don’t think he even knew my name. And to me he was just Al who lost his girlfriend.
Avoiding friends at lunch, I brown bagged it. It was spring but we were having a ‘dog days of August’ heat spell. It was too hot to picnic outside by one of NY’s fountains, but I didn’t want to eat at my desk, so most days I went across the street from the office to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, a beautiful old cathedral (since torn down and rebuilt as a modern structure at the base of the CitiCorp skyscraper which was built on the property) w/ stained glass windows and carved archways and altars, lecterns and high-back clergy ‘churchy’ chairs. There, I’d eat my tuna salad sandwich on white and continue the wallowing, moping and sulking. Unlike Catholic cathedrals there was rarely anyone else sitting in the pews praying or musing or lighting candles at an altar. Soon after we wordlessly ‘bonded,’ in the office, Al would join me in the pew in St. Peter’s for lunch and I’d give him half my sandwich. We’d sit there in silence and let the church ‘vibes’ wash over us. I started making two sandwiches. Some days he’d bring chips.
As I became bored w/ my wallowing, I also decided that I needed to change jobs. I’d gotten this one because Marty and Norman knew Mr. O.R.A and I wanted to start fresh somewhere else.
I found a roommate (I still had that big apartment to pay for), chopped off my long, ironed-straight hair, got a job as an 'agent in training' (translation: assistant) at IFA (International Famous Agency) the predecessor to the world famous theatrical agency ICM (International Creative Management) and started my new life w/ a smile on my face.
A few years later, my hair again long but no longer straightened, I had moved on from ICM, freelancing as a writer and, once again, found myself in search of a steady income. The word was out and I got a call from Marty Bregman’s assistant. Al, now famous as Michael Corleone and Serpico, wanted to produce and was looking for someone to develop scripts, run his office and more or less take care of his life… would I be interested? Why not?
On the night of the interview it was pouring rain. I had to be there at 7:00 and I knew I’d have to walk six long city blocks (you can never find a taxi in Manhattan when it’s raining), so I put on a great pair of Italian boots, jeans, a cashmere sweater, a Ralph Lauren hacking jacket, topped it all off w/ my Burberry trench coat, grabbed my Vuitton shoulder bag, my resume and an umbrella and went out into the storm. I arrived a minute late, drenched – took off my Burberry and entered the office. There, sitting behind the desk eating a corned beef sandwich on rye was the Al Pacino, Mr. Moviestar. His demeanor told me that. He wasn’t just ‘Al’ anymore… He was pushing 40 now (maybe already 40). He looked good. But he was still short.
We talked. He asked me how I envisioned the job. He ate more of his sandwich. I told him. He had some cole slaw. My stomach growled. We talked some more. He sipped a soda and took another bite of his sandwich. I flashed on giving him half my tuna on white and wanted to grab half his corned beef. I restrained myself. He told me how much the job paid. I told him it wasn’t enough. Then suddenly he stopped eating and sipping. I waited. He stared at me then asked, “Did we date?”
I don’t think I stopped laughing for a full two minutes. When I did, I explained. He smiled but still didn’t share his corned beef. I didn’t take the job.