30 March 2013

Shooting Star Gazing

Mostly I do not miss my New York days now, which is good.  Pining is time wasted.  But now and then something pricks the heart.  This Saturday morning is it quite silly.  While doing some small chores I am watching vintage "Law & Order" episodes looking for my famous friends. 

Lots of NYC actors did small roles on LO.  In fact, if you had an equity card and did not appear you were rare.  My church had three who turned up from time to time. 

One is Paul Calderon.  Very good at smart bad guys with winning wicked smiles.  A sweet guy with a nifty family. 

Another is Ray Virta.  He is married to my cousin Christina who edited Discover Magazine until it was outsourced to Waukesha WI.  Unlike me, they did not move to the heartland from NYC.  Ray played lawyers, financiers, white collar dudes.  He is also teaches acting and drama. 

The last is Richard Coate, a face that turned up as a bailiff or a juror several times.  He is retired now and has been very active in Korean War veterans work.  His silhouette photo from the war was among the most widely shared at the time. 

In the spirit of full disclosure I did bump into Jackie Mason on Broadway, and wave at Tim Curry on 42nd St once.  But my closest brush with fame was when I was a member of a group in Brooklyn that invited George Plimpton and Vivica Lindfors to speak on poetry.  I had to deliver grace, and he graciously referred to my words as better than his own.  Classy guy.

Little did I know that here in GR I would rub some elbows with fame as well.  I will save that bit of name dropping for another day.  This morning, seeing my Brooklyn friends on old TV shows makes me feel good.

20 March 2013

Touched By An Unknowing Angel

OK, it's been another long time.  Blame it on Facebook where quick retorts and ripostes make writing a form of verbal hors d'oeuvres (literally, 'without work"). 

But then something happened on Sunday that is worth a story.  In fact, I will copy this once it is done and paste it into my diary which is almost a week overdue.

It is overdue because I went away for a few days.  The reason was to perform a wedding for a woman I met 19 years ago in my previous church.  She was single then, and very lonesome.  For a time she was partnered with a woman in the congregation but that was n not a life match.  Then she moved away, far away, abandoning her old life and every hope of finding lasting love.  As often happens, that is exactly when love strikes, and she has been in a 'uncommon law' marriage since. 

But this was a woman who had dreamed of a wedding even before she realized she was not hetero.  So when New York became a place of legal same sex marriage, she jumped at it and invited me to do the deed.  Which I did, making it my first legal same-sex marriage.  I loved signing that license even if I think clergy shouldn't have that power in the first place.

But the story I want to tell is not about the wedding.  Weddings are all the same, really.  Nervous brides, stammering grooms, beaming parents, little girls in dresses and men uncomfortable in formal clothes. The story happened the day before, on Sunday.

I went to my old church.  Quietly slipping into the back pew, seen by just a few and holding my finger over my lips to say 'please don't tell,' I enjoyed watching a service in a place I never got to sit and watch.  Whenever someone I knew seemed to look in my direction I averted my eyes and hope my shorter hair and glasses kept them confused.  It has been eight years since I left, after all.

Of course there was a time to greet people, a lovely custom.  Those around me were new and did not recognize me at all.  Lovely.  Then from behind me, a tap on my shoulder.  Who had spied me? 

A stranger to my eyes.  Actually, two very pretty young women who clearly knew who I was.  "I am so sorry I don't remember you," said I sadly.  "Oh, we only came on Christmas Eve and Easter," they said.  Their mother appeared to explain that they were so busy then (clearly when the girls were probably not teenagers) that getting there on Sundays was hard.  But all three of them said how much they enjoyed my words back then. 

Eight years later they still remembered.  Heavens!  I was so touched.  My eyes got a little watery, and I said "thank you so much. That means a lot to me." But that's not the end of the story.  One of the young women told me, "I found your blog."  Instantly I felt bad about not writing more often. 

No doubt it is wonderful to have thousands who hang on your words, but that is not my destiny. My fantasy of being a famous author or a prominent preacher will remain a fantasy, but it touched me more than I expected to think there are a few - well OK one - who is a fan. 

"You're adorable," I said, and meant it.  To know you matter more than you realize is such a gift.  I hope this story is a proper 'thank you note' for gladdening the heart of a man in the third act of life.  If you see this, send me an address and I will make it a proper note.