Thursday, September 30, 2010

Simon and Garfunkel: Intersections.

New York

For almost two months, I have resisted posting not because there was nothing to say. But because there was so much to say. I guess I was waiting for the end of the story, the theme that might play out in real life.

Today I got it.

Let me explain. I met a very good friend who was in town from Philadelphia for a law conference at a hotel on Central Park South. The dining room, overlooking the park offers a stunning view, and has always been my favorite room in New York for special events. Today was a bonus. Ann and I have been friends for years, have shared Christmases, Thanksgivings, vacations with her children and mine. But it is less frequent now that I am in New York more that we get a chance to really chat.

The maitre'd seated us in the empty dining room. We sat by the window with wait staff hovering. Midway through our meal, a 70ish-looking tall man, wearing wire rim aviator glasses, arrived and took the table next to us. He looked oddly familiar. Several minutes later, another man arrived. They embraced, the tall, light haired man crouching down to hug the other man, easily a head shorter with sparse black hair ( like a tonsure ).
My friend and I finished our lunch. I told her I thought the men looked familiar. She suggested I ask as we left the restaurant.

I was right. Yup. It was "Hello darkness my old friend..." The singer/songwriters of the songs that I danced to, wept to, made love to. The songs I sang my children. Hymns, some of them, for me.

And strangely, I never saw them in concert. They were almost too much to share with the masses at Giant stadium or any of the huge venues that packed in thousands for their concerts.

There they were--two baby boomers having lunch together, dressed casually. They could have been from Goldman's ( well, not quite. They weren't wearing red power ties; no ties at all, actually ).

"Why don't you go over and say something," Ann nudged. Flushed, I'm sure, I screwed up the courage to non-challantly return to my table, feigning having lost something. Then, slipping over to the next table. Their table.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," I began, my hands clasped in front of me. Art Garfunkel looked up, smiled faintly. Paul Simon looked a bit non-plussed.

"I know it's rude, but I just couldn't leave without saying how much your work meant to me." I stood up a bit taller, hoping my hair didn't fall into my eyes ( why had I put off getting it cut, anyway?). "You have made my day, week, month." By this time, Paul Simon is looking up at me, his face a bit more jowled than I remembered, but his eyes were the sad, dark eyes I remember from TV.

Art Garfunkel ( somehow it seems a bit too familiar to just call him Art ) smiled again.
"It's no problem. It's always nice to receive a compliment."

What was it that made that one of the memories that I will carry to my grave? I don't think I'm a groupie. I see celebrities of one sort or another from time to time in New York . Alec Baldwin in my gym; Bob Costas at the next table this winter; Joe of Morning Joe in Central Park in July.

But this was different. I never dreamt that I would ever be so close to these two greats. Just didn't think it would happen. It's not that I follow their careers. I didn't even know that Art Garfunkel had vocal paresis ( vocal cord dysfunction ) and had cancelled tours with Simon indefinitely last June. I don't even read People magazine.

But they were woven into the fabric of my past--newly married in Iowa City, Iowa; lonely in a new place in Oxon Hill, Maryland. They're connected to films that shaped me like The Graduate. They're connected to the Vietnam war both at that time and in the films that depict that time.

So, today, September 30, 2010. That's a day I'll remember. I'll tell my grandchildren, if they'll listen about the day their Grammie met someone(s) worth celebrity kudos for their body of work. For their legacy, and the evocative lyrics and rhythms of their craft.

Last week, I wrote with four other writers for five straight days. We wrote morning and afternoon. Ate together, Played together in the waves of Cape Hatteras. After dinner we listened to one another's work and critiqued it--walking that fine line of offering encouragement for a line, a phrase, a page that rang universal and the important tough job of making the comments about needed change, lack of clarity, or voice. I left that retreat full of courage to continue writing, continue trusting my voice. It was a privilege that I wasn't sure I would have the chance to realize ( it was by invitation ). These are good writers. Better than me, I suppose.

And then this magical meeting.
Two moments in time; one after the other. I deeply believe that these intersections have the power to change the molecules in every cell of the body.



Erin said...

What a wonderful post - and it's obvious you do indeed have the soul of a writer! I absolutely understand how this simple meeting felt like a mountaintop experience; I met Art Garfunkel after a concert a decade ago and found him wonderfully warm and gracious - even if he did tease me for writing him a four-page-long letter!

How cool to get a first-hand glimpse of the very powerful friendship between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. I can't help wondering if they will do something together to acknowledge their 70th birthdays next fall, in light of Old Friends; of course, with Art's vocal troubles, that might not be an option...

Thanks for sharing your very cool experience. Brought a smile to my day! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this lovely recounting of a chance meeting with two men who have made a difference in so many lives.

Anonymous said...

Wow, awesome! I would never have the nerve to talk to Simon and Garfunkel even if I did have the occasion to meet them! (I did see them in concert twice though).

Emilie said...

Thank you! I did see them once in concert (I was 16), and that is still a wonderful memory. So glad you dared to speak to them.
Would love to hear more about the retreat, and about your writing.