Trip to New York (June 2016, Part 2)
I met Carole at a Chinese place beneath her building and we enjoyed their dumplings and she told me she had some back issues and also about the good news of her insurance. I don't sketch enough but I did a quick sketch of her and she wanted to me to sign it, claiming it will be of value some day. Oh, the ego likes hearing such things. She still has her younger lover and her teacher's pension and her irritating non caring brother and friends that acted strange and I listened and contributed and went home. I hadn't called dad and he sounded worried once I called.
Next on the activity list was the class reunion. There were to be three events, Friday a dinner with our class and the faculty members, Saturday meeting at the school and listening to classmate James Gadsden give a talk and be honored, for he had become a diplomat to Iceland and had a Harvard type of career. Later there was to be dinner at an Italian restaurant. Sunday Terry who for a time was a film critic, was to have us out for brunch at his Park Slope apartment. I chose one out of three events, to attend the Saturday event.
Immediately upon entering the school I ran into Jodie, wife of Jimmy Tarlau. Jimmy was the former president of our class in high school, who possessed intelligence and organizational skills that he used to coordinate the extra activities around the reunion. He had visited me once in Florida where his in laws had a place nearby. Eventually they sold it. Too hard to go back and forth I suppose. Here was an interesting link. Jodie and her brother also grew up in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper, which was snubbed in this school. It was a little too common, too GI bill and too overly institutional. Understood. She also went to the high school we did which was small, super progressive, had a certain political agenda merged with a competitive preparatory school edge. Jodie had been in both worlds as I had and we could share notes, although she adapted better than I. Jimmy was a upper West side child, intellectual, and had been in the school longer than I and had cemented relationships accordingly and that was hard to break into.
Anyhow, at the school James Gadsden was speaking and I could hardly hear him. It was in a side room. He used to be a tall black man but had shrunk a little. He was a scholarship student from the south and had slept in my parents apartment a few times. For me the school was an alternative to tough local schools, yeshiva, and maybe the Quaker school Friends. For others, going there was a political statement. Later, when having dinner, I touched James on the shoulder and he said he just had surgery on that shoulder so I should be careful. I joked and said too much writing and tension in the wrist from too many degrees. At dinner, with another classmate Paula listening, the one comment he said to me was how beautiful he thought my sister was, with long black hair and fine manners and how nicely spoken she was. While I was always more photogenic and received some serious jealousy for that, Gail had Mona Lisa classical looks. I later told Gail his comment and how surrealistic it seemed. Of all the things he could say to me this is what came out. I'm sure all his years of academia and being a diplomat forced him into certain roles. When free of these boxes what blurted out were his basic primal feelings and reactions without layers. Go James. I told him it was very nice to see him and it was.
It was a small school and not many showed up, partly because of distance, partly circumstance, life and last minute obligations. The nice thing about being older and going to one of these reunions is that you are able to ask questions that bother you and fill in the little pieces of puzzles that you've always wondered about. Why did Joe leave and go to Stuyvesant HS? (Some peope had switched schools but came out of some loyalty to the school, and out of respect for Jimmy's effort. Jimmy is who I am referring to, not to be confused with James the diplomat.) Why did John leave as he played guitar, was a precocious writer and fit the Little Red Elisabeth Irwin image? Turns out his father, a practical dentist, sensed it would turn into a bottle neck. Not sure what that implied but somehow it made some sense and might have been prophetic. Anyhow, John pursued an academic career. How and why did Marvin become a camera man after being in Africa in his college junior year? He seemed ambitious now and wanted to make films after many years, according to him, of just having a good time. More men than women showed up. Maggie, my ex wife, had an interesting reason. She said it's harder for women to appear because they are judged more harshly on looks, marital status and so on. Men can just be men, and if they have money they can look like anything. Some truth in this.
Paula and Andrea seemed nice. Paula had been a red diaper baby and Andrea pursued art in NYC. The latter didn't come to dinner. Paula looked well and at the 18th reunion had commented she admired how Jimmy and Jodie got together from same high school. I've observed in my life that many second marriages happen between ex classmates from their early years. You know from whence they came. She was always a bright lady and I wished I was less preoccupied so I could inquire more about her life. (Part 2 ended)