Friday, November 12, 2010


On a clear November day Danielle and I go up to the Cloisters, sit on a bench high above the river watching little old New Yorkers promenading in their Sunday best, and then on to a funny movie with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. We are splitting the house sitting duties of this quite fancy co-op a mutual friend from the Middle East, a guy with the London Observer, had purchased in an elaborately renovated loft building in a no-man’s land just west of Union Square that is now, for real estate promotion purposes, called the Flat Iron district. We have known each other for years. Danielle was married for a time to an old friend of mine from Athens days,. and we once helped sea turtles lay their eggs on an endless deserted sand beach on the little known east coast of the Malay Peninsula. Another time we were in the same building in Beirut. She is fun and she is gorgeous – French Vietnamese.

Sadly she is just a friend. People we have known from various exotic places, some of them my friends, more of them hers, keep coming through the co-op. Danielle is sometimes with a distinguished guy who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work for the L.A. Times on China and sometimes she is with an intense guy who won his Pulitzer for New York Times things in Central America. These and other war loving journalists, whom I had never expected to see again. But for the moment I’ll take who I can get. I am just out of a marriage and really living nowhere yet.

After the movie Danielle and I head down to West 79th Street to a casual dinner gathering of New Yorkers I have known for years, at the Upper West Side apartment of Walter Karp, who has become a somewhat celebrated political writer in books and magazines and is never at a loss for verbal versions of what he is about to write. His current wife is blond, quick and wonderfully Brooklyn human. Alex Bespaloff is there too, a well known wine writer now. I used to never drive far out of town with getting a case of wine selected by Michael Aaron, who was in line to inherit the big wine merchant place Sherry Lehman. Michael had been in a wine tasting group where I had met Alex when I was first living in New York and I had this amazing artist girlfriend whom I though I might never leave, though it fell apart. Everything seems long ago now in this time I am not living anywhere.

At this dinner with old New York friends, Walter’s best friend since long ago Columbia Days, Marvin, is present. Marvin is a brilliant manic-depressive literary guy who now leads historical walking tours in the city even though he recently turned blind. With him is his long-time Japanese wife Rose.

One day at the place near Union Square Danielle strides in in early evening a tall young woman with waist-length hair who knows how to look erotic in high boots – and she says my almost ex-wife Claudia had just appeared at Magnum, where Danielle holds court with famous photographers. Claudia had been in a fury. She had said that Rose, her fellow Asian, had seen us at Walters’ and had told her “everything.” So Claudia burst into Magnum demanding loudly that Danielle release me.

My first thought was that I deeply wished that everything my almost ex-wife had ever suspected were true – even though just before we separated she said that in her culture violence would be acceptable if she caught me doing what she thought I was doing.

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