Archive for June, 2011


Sunday, June 26th, 2011

         Why don’t I stop fooling myself?
         The game is over, over, over.

Dear Michael,

You were right the other day. Putting aside my life-long pals, you thought I over-glorified the antics of new-found, perhaps colorful friends. I should tell you more, (you said), of the balanced ones. OK buddy. Here goes:

Bruce H and I come from two different worlds. He being a Collinwood Catholic and I a Heights-area Jew, there was no reason to think our lives would intersect. They did though, ten years ago, in the rooms of recovery. It was then we became fast friends: he, a financial advisor, me the financial miscreant.

Bruce, (I saw right on), was one of those guys that walked what he talked. In a world where many came for relief Bruce stayed for recovery. The same age with the same disease, we gravitated toward each other. Our growth, indeed, often flowed in parallel currents.

I’ve learned a lot from him. Still do. While primary contact is at meetings, our telephones ring at will. More than anything else though, he’s one of those guys not afraid to hold a mirror to my face.

Remember 2006, when I lost the weight? ‘Twas Bruce’s game plan. I followed his path that year—his caring path. Don’t think you’re alone in eyeing my gain. Bruce H has too. Often he’s nudged me, gently… brotherly, to get back on board. Often, even before this week when clearly, the price of poker went up.

I got a text from Bruce just Wednesday. It came as I took my stress test. Let me share it:

“God is tapping you on your shoulder,” it read. “He’s giving you a warning.” “What action will you take?” it asked and then he answered: “NONE is not acceptable by those who love you…”

I know, Michael, that you’re skeptical of the spirituality of my imperfection. I sense too, that you’re bothered ‘bout my health.

I’m worried too.

         “Time is tapping on my forehead,
         Hanging from my mirror,
         Rattling the teacups,
         And I wonder
         How long can I delay?”

I’m trying, Michael.  I really am. Just know I focus better and often steer clearer when bolstered by guys I meet in the rooms…guys like Bruce H.

Love, Dad

                              (Adapted from Paul Simon)


Friday, June 24th, 2011

        “Everyone gets a new life on this island. Maybe it’s time you start yours.”                     John Locke                                                                                                                         

Angry, disillusioned, disenchanted…alone. My life was one of isolation. Fear and isolation. I’d look in the mirror—swear to God I would—and ask “How did this happen to a nice Jewish boy like me?”

That was 5,000 days ago. Today.

No one enters recovery on a winning streak. For fifteen years I’d had the answers. Skated through college, stormed through the 70’s.…All the answers. Until I didn’t—until in a world where I’d done no wrong, suddenly I could do no right. For fifteen years. It was a slow slide–to be sure– ignited when my Dad died, jump-started as the marriage fell…but, make no mistake about it, one day I looked up and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

My father, you see, taught me everything I needed to know about life except how to live without him. As such, when I stumbled a bit, I was clueless. It didn’t take long, (what with my Dad not there to prop me up), but I’d lost my mojo. Spiraling down, no one patting me on the back, reassuring, I lost too that belief— that resolve that if I just did my best the hits would fall. Somewhere along the road I traded faith for fear and pride for resentment.

So there I was in ’97 with my sponsor Preston. For the first time since the fall of Albert I was hearing NOT the things I wanted to hear, but the things I needed to hear. And for some reason I was listening.

Cocky, sixteen years my junior, he looked me dead in the eye:

“Victims don’t stay sober,” he told me. “And get rid of your resentments. You hold on to them and the only one who suffers is you.”

“Yeah, but—“I started.
“Anything after ‘but’ doesn’t count” he harped. “This ain’t a dress rehearsal. You’ve used up your ‘buts’.”

“Do you believe in God?” he asked me.
“Do you have FAITH in God?”
I hesitated (‘til he broke the silence).

“Well FIND it. My guess is your God wouldn’t bring you this far just to drop you on your ass right now.”

“God can move mountains,” he told me, “But once in a while you have to pick up a shovel.”

Something clicked that night. In me. It was a light bulb turning on, a shining moment not felt in years. There, in a coffeehouse long since closed, I found a mustard seed of hope and a sense of renewal.

My life turned around that evening and thirteen-plus years later I haven’t looked back. (Nor, for that matter, have I put down the shovel).

Sun Kwon: I don’t think I’ve ever seen you angry.
Locke: [chuckles] Oh, I used to get angry – all the time, frustrated, too.
Sun Kwon: You’re not frustrated any more?
Locke: I’m not lost any more.
Sun Kwon: How did you do that?
Locke: The same way anything lost gets found – I stopped looking.

                                                                  From “Lost”


Sunday, June 19th, 2011

There’s this scene in “The Music Man”—toward the end.

Little Winthrop realizes Harold Hill is just a spellbinder—all smoke and mirrors— that the “Professor” knows nothing of music. What the lad hasn’t figured is that Hill’s mellowed, changed…even fallen in love.

“Leave me go, you big liar!” the boy screams.
“You want the truth?” says Hill, holding the kid down. “You’re a wonderful kid. I thought so from the first. That’s why I wanted you in the band!”
“What band?” bemoans Winthrop.
And then it comes: the line that chokes me, nightly, behind the curtain. Like clockwork.

“I always think there’s a band, kid.”

We close today. One month in run/thru’s, two bad haircuts, three weeks of shows. Yes, the curtain will fall on “The Music Man”, as much as it ever can for me.

I jumped to do this. Why wouldn’t I? The story, the timeless songs transpose me…..

We’re in the living room, 3227 East Overlook. Hal and I, (all of 8 and 10), are on the couch. There’s Aunt Helen, perched on a piano seat, pounding away. Grandma’s over her, singing from behind. And they’re smiling. Our Mom is there, (perhaps), but our father’s clearly present. And he’s standing. Certain sheet music always had him standing. And he’s directing. Certain show tunes always had him directing.

It was, yes, under just these circumstances, that long before we memorized Haftorah we learned “76 Trombones.”

How many times did Grandma Bogart ask “Helen, why do they laugh at my singing?” How many times did our Aunt remind “Boys, did you know ‘Good Night My Someone’ and ’76 Trombones’ are the same song?” And, yes, how many times (PER DAY) would our Dad, with virtual baton, conduct the band?

Al Bogart didn’t crave much. His world outside collapsing, all he ever wanted was two boys, a good Kaiser roll, good card game, Woody Hayes on Saturday and Robert Preston on Sunday. Not much to ask.

The times, the demands…were simpler then—before Trouble came to River City.

It’s hard not to think of him today. Father’s Day…the last show and all. Like Hill, he was a salesman and, yes, a spellbinder. Our Dad, though, was so much more.

Black and white, he was, yet, a walking contradiction. While empathetic to a fault, he just didn’t suffer fools easily. How true this was at check-out counters. We’d be standing there. The bill would be, let’s say $4.78 and he’d hand the boy a Five with 3 pennies. The kid would stare—just stare—not knowing what to do. Often the guy’d give our dad his three cents back with two dimes and two other pennies. It drove him nuts!

Never, though, would he correct. Never would he say “Just give me a quarter.” He’d turn, rather, and whisper to me: “His parents must be so proud!”

And he was patient—our father was—when he cared to be. I saw him wait in line once—for an HOUR—just to buy Wayne Newton tickets. Pleasant, smiling charming. This same man, though—-put him in a shorter line, delay his purchase of gas or cigarettes…and he’s grousing “C’mon Flash!” or “Let’s go Bullet!”

With all that, still, Al Bogart was the least judgmental person I’ve known. He had a unique ability to not only be real and dream at the same time, but to truly believe his dreams.

And why not? His marriage to Harriet was story-book. What better way to leave than on his anniversary? And the boys, Hal and Bruce? He knew they were human, but saw them flawless nonetheless.

He was beautiful, his cup ran over with compassion.

And he was wealthy and wise.

It is a rich man, you see, that believes his dreams, and a wise one that passes the baton.

Our dad blessed me with his love and was, indeed, MY Music Man.

He is the reason, quite clearly, that I can never quite close this show and reason further why, no matter what, I always believe there’s a band.


Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Announcers would point to Buckeye and Celtic great John Havlicek “moving without the ball.” It was, they noted, what he did when eyes were elsewhere that set him apart.

I was reminded of this just Saturday when I bumped into cousin Donnie. Though our paths rarely cross, it was something he did, something extra years ago that—to this day—stands out.

Michigan State University–summer of ’67. Stratospheric SAT’s hadn’t trumped C+ grades and, as such, one week after high school, I was in college. No passing Go, no two hundred dollars…College.

Weekdays weren’t bad. Living in a four-man suite, friends I had. Still, come Fridays, they’d head home—evaporate–and I’d be mired in East Lansing. No cards, no air conditioning….it got lonely. (How many times, really, could I play “Sgt. Pepper?”) Stuart and Bob came up once, of course….but….

I was sitting in—where else—the dorm room one Saturday when the phone rang. It was Donnie.

“Pinky and I are driving through. Want lunch?”

Imagine that! En route cross-country…who would have known had they not stopped—not called me?

We met that day, at the Student Union. In a booth I still picture, sharing maybe 45 minutes, they made my day. Nothing profound, nothing major. Still, forty-four years later, this simple act of unnecessary, unexpected kindness, perhaps long-forgotten by them, comes to mind whenever we meet.

Years later it was Michael on the road. Commencement on Friday. New York on Saturday. His idea.

I don’t know what he’d have done but for Aunt Rosie. My son had drive, kishkes and may have gone anyway. Even immediately, without passing Go. Destined for the Big City, whatever…Still, just as I recall his ambition, I too remember the kindness of our not-young aunt.

No one would have blinked had she acquiesced. Uncle Fred was failing, gravely ill. No one would have thought twice had she not said “Michael…please…stay here.”

Ten years ago this week my boy saw what family, what inclusion are all about…even in trying circumstance. Dropping him off, on the day I said good bye to Uncle Fred, I said hello, as well, to the cherished lesson of Aunt Rose: we open doors—we don’t close them.

It’s what I’m doing away from the ball that really matters. Like Cousin Donnie, and Aunt Rosie…and Grandpa Stuart.

Great Neck, New York: just last winter. Max, at a month, was surrounded by his father, two granddads and a sea of what seemed like forty-three women… And, (if you’ll excuse the analogy), they were passing that baby around not unlike rabbis pass the Torah High Holidays. Everyone wanted a piece.

Don’t know if others noticed. I did. Stuart Miller held back. With words unspoken, knowing well the limit to my time out east, he made sure I held that boy…and held that boy…and held that boy. With no one watching, when no one would have known…this cowboy saw. Quietly, without fanfare, Stuart maximized my finite hours with his infinite love.

It’s what we do away from the ball that counts.

I get through the melancholy of a week like this…what with the show ending, the kids away, Father’s Day, et cetera, by remembering, with gratitude, all the Donnie’s, Rosie’s and Stuart’s in my life, and all the kindnesses bestowed upon me.

I have a lot to be thankful for.


Sunday, June 12th, 2011

       “….Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
        Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
        But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
        Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade…”

                                       Polonius, to his son, in “Hamlet”

More than wanting to be loved, I want to feel safe.

As kids our parents would urge to neither trust strangers nor believe everything heard. We were circled by a shield of family and a fortress of what I’d come to learn were their life-long friends. It was a world of illusion, but no disillusion. Everyone I knew was bankable, believable and…I felt safe.

That all changed, says Tom The Shrink, when our parents split. It was the beginning, says he, of my “abandonment issues.” It was also, he notes with irony, the genesis of my overwhelming desire to believe early and trust prematurely.

He told me that five years ago and I thought I got it. I didn’t though, and stumbled again, just this week. It wasn’t a movie deal this time, nor rooms in Vegas…but I hurt. As such, Wednesday, at a meeting, I shared.

“Give everyone the benefit of the doubt…” counseled Steve, “…and you’re just pissing up a rope.” “You, buddy, are always looking for a Hollywood ending.”

He made me think—my pal did. For a few days now I’ve studied the bricks and mortar of my support system. Fact is, I’m in a pretty safe place.

Blessed with a cadre, no a company of timeless friends and steadfast family, I watch them, time after time, year after year, prioritize ME over my feelings.
This is, I’ve concluded, not only a good thing, but all the protection I need.

I recalled, this week, a talk with Bobby and Stuart from my first days of sobriety. We were speaking of a girl I’d been dating, (the one Fenton called “Fatal Attraction”).

“Now, B, you’re not going to drink over this?” Snyder asked. Stuey nodded assurance: “He’ll be fine.” Neither offended by Bob nor threatened by the candor, I knew well they’d never hurt me.

I thought also, of playing poker with Walt…and the times he’d called me on poor play, questioned my illogic and taught me with caring critique.

And, yes…Aunt Helen. I paused on her too. She’d ripped me a new one just recently….with love:

“Why are you wearing a hat?” I was asked.
“I’m doing a show and had to have my head shaved.”

Not once did she ask to see my dome. Not even curious. Instead, came her instant rejoinder:

“How is it you’ll wear a cap in summer but in the winter, when you always catch colds, you refuse? What’s wrong with you?”

Say what you want about the lady, but, (as my father would say), “She’d never give you a bum steer.”

My world is full Bobby’s, Walt’s and Aunt Helens… of blessings. I need to think of that, to be grateful when, as this week, I skin my knee.

Scars heal. Even unnecessary ones. In the meantime, I’ll take a step back, be less willing to believe all I hear, and, above all else….listen with my eyes.


Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

The Bohrers were discussing how a friend tensed up golfing with family.

“Would you be that way in front of my dad? asked The Little One.
“Absolutely not…” said her hubby, “Your father’s the least competitive person I know.”

Ouch. (This, even coming from a Cub fan, is no compliment).

Does my son-in-law truly believe I was born bald, fat and 60? …that the competitive fires of his generation burn brighter than ours ever did….than mine ever did?

When Stacy told the story I chuckled. She tried to clean it up, saying Jason not only didn’t know I’d golfed, but actually never thought I’d been outdoors.

“We’d hitch down Green—me and Wieder—to putt on the practice green at Highland for free,” I told her. (She didn’t care). “I used to ride my bike to Lyndhurst Golf Course at Mayfield by Brainard.” (She wasn’t listening).

“It’s OK, Dad, he loves you.”

That’s not enough, I said. Let’s have, shall we say…a competition. Eye on my July visit, we agreed to an eighteen hole tournament…for dinner. Winner take all. “Check with Bones,” I insisted. “Don’t want to pressure him.” “Oh, I added, “And find out if he wants medal play or match play?”

It’s funny how kids view us. Like we never were young, never loved or lost, never jumped, fell…competed. Heck, like we never had lives. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad that by the time Stace met Jace I’d toned down, but part of me wishes he’d seen the fire and ice I shared with compatriots on the fields of the past.

Wish he’d have been on campus when the guy broke his leg tagging from third and in a matter of seconds Wieder not only protected a big late-inning lead but also created a new anti-Semite. If only he’d heard Snyder taunt Johnny Palladino as the latter stepped in a Gordon Park batter’s box. Or seen the blood behind the skating rink when Robbie Epstein’s pivot and throw split the runner’s forehead. “You’re supposed to aim between his eyes,” he noted.

Golf competition? Give me a break. Aren’t you really “playing against the course?”

We grew up on the mean streets of South Euclid in world void of video games, replete with live contests and real people, some of whom were allowed to play just so they wouldn’t beat us up. (More about Bobby Stain later).

We learned, then, to compete at a young age. For example, our dad, whether it be baseball or cards (his two major sports), never lied down. He’d take us to Forest Hills Park back then. For softball. He’d be pitching to us, underhand—no arc. “Albert,” our mom would scream, “Ease up a bit; let them hit it!” “Why?” he would ask.

Little League was no different. He’d sit on the bench, scoring games. Every once in a while I’d ground a ball—a shot—. The fielder would touch it, (or maybe not), and it would get through. ERROR, my Dad would note. “If it was a clean hit you’d get it” he’d smile.

Cards were no different. We’d sit there, parents and kids pre-divorce, playing hearts. Teams. To this day Hal has nocturnal flashbacks of a small kitchen on Bayard, and the consequences of passing our Dad the Queen without protection.

“It’s only a game!” said our mother (played by Audrey Meadows). “Let him do it over, Al.” And Ralph Kramden glared back: “How’s he going to learn?”

It never changed. Not even in college. Our mom and Hal were gone, but Walt was there…and it was still hearts. In a game that had one winner and two losers, I’d pay a penny a point per loss, Marc two and my Dad three cents….winner take all. Each triumph you’d bump an extra cent per point going forward. And we always paid.

Those days, though, are gone. And Jason never saw them. Never viewed, even, the married years…when the wife and I would trek to Columbus and, as the ladies cleared dishes, the cards came out. Gin. And though the ladies might retire, the game went on. Can’t recall if it was one or two cents/point, but it was always ba#$s to the wall. Oh, he’d hold my check from time to time—wait ‘til I said to cash it—but it was always a competition. “It’s not the money,” my father’d say. “If I tear this up, you’ll never enjoy your victories.”

And no, Jason never saw my tennis with Herzog. For years Alan wondered why when at his first point I’d shout “Five-love,” but with mine it was always “FIFTEEN-love.” Competition, I knew even then, was subliminal

I could tell him how Fenton would give people the Hawaiian Witch Chant behind their backs at bowling. I could email about the time at Drackett when someone was picking on Stuart so I challenged the bully to a boxing match. We fought, gloves, referee and all, by the fourth floor elevators.

I could tell the story of the 1969 Boobus Bowl, where, risqué as it was for the time, we hoisted a full bed sheet banner reading “MUCK FANDEL” and strung it from the endzone fence at Rowland…but I won’t.

I could share how, as an obnoxious coach, I’d once called consecutive times out just to “ice” a sixth grader at the foul line at Hilltop. But I shan’t.

No, as much as I love the man, this is a message to be delivered in the ring…on the course…in person. If I text him anything at all, it will be the number to Carson’s Ribs. After all, we’re playing for dinner.


Sunday, June 5th, 2011

I’m an educated man. Rearing in the then-stellar South Euclid-Lyndhurst school system was supplemented by thirteen years of religious training, four years of undergrad, three years of law …and months nurtured as an army medic. My brother too is well-schooled. His OSU degree was followed by a Masters at UNC. Neither of us are idiots.

Why then, with all our formal education, all the hands-on experience…can we never have the right answer for our aunt? Ever.

My first year with the White Sox we were managed by Mr. Wendel. His single message that season, the one thing he’d plead to our bench: “Before every pitch…ask yourself ‘What will I do if the ball comes to me?’” It was a lesson I carried to Mr. Minadeo’s Brooklyn in the Pony League, to Waxman Plumbing and Sol’s Boys, and even honored playing out my string with Bruce Block in the 80’s. WHAT DO I DO IF THE BALL COMES TO ME? Time honored dogma, was it not the Jewish version of the Boy Scouts’ “Be prepared.”?

Try as we may, when it comes to our aunt, Hal and I will never get Merit Badges. H says, “It’s always what you don’t expect.”

A half century after Fred Wendel, it matters not the subject and matters not the situation. Upcoming Helen interactions demand team meetings. H and I, therefore, convene, asking “What do we say if she asks…” There is give and take, an open airing of perspectives, of theory, of stratagem….”And what, we ask, do we counter with when she says ….” Since we rarely see her together, as we’ll each be “on our own,” we think it through…anticipate: WHAT DO I DO IF THE BALL COMES TO ME?

In baseball there’s a “book.” Man on first, single to the outfield, he throws to third. Man on second, same situation….throw home through the cutoff man… Simple you might say, the steadfast fundamentals that made Wieder’s good teams great.

There’s no book on Aunt Helen!

This is, of course, more an issue for Bruce than Harold. Once, as the first born “b’chor,” the proud graduate of Hebrew High School, I’d been the family’s Golden Boy. Those sentiments were neutered by my life, wounded when our father died, and buried with Grandma Bogart in ’89. Since then it’s been Aunt Helen (Queen Mother), Hal as Ray Romano and….of course, Everybody Loves Raymond. Perhaps a function of time, perhaps not, but today Helen considers me the bad nephew and Hal the good son.

Which is why preparation so important! (Even for Hal). He knows full well that while in her eyes he can do no wrong (except, perhaps by defending me)….that any discord between his aunt and his brother will “not be good for the Jews,” especially one named Harold. There’s always fallout.

So we prepare. Together. We anticipate. Together. We plot. Together. But there is no book!

Consider: Two months ago I was cast in “The Music Man.” A glorious musical, it provided the perfect vehicle for her to not only be with family, but revisit the wheelhouse of her life.

Ah…but as Hal says, “It’s always what you don’t expect.”

“How’s the show going?” she inquired in May.
“Flat,” I said. “
“Should I not come to see it?”
“I told Hal not to come,” said I, but advised her she’d love it, that Weiskopf would bring her to a matinee. (What I hadn’t told her—it was a surprise—was that I’d dedicated my performance to her….in the program). Her birthday is mid-run; I thought it would be nice).
“If it’s not good enough for your brother,” she told me, “I too shall abstain.”
“But YOU will love it,” I insisted.
“Please…why must you be argumentative?….I don’t love bad theater.”

Time passed. Tech week approached. She needed chicken.

“Do you still want your brother not to come?” she asked, all the while checking the Boris receipt…again.
“Actually,” I noted, “The show’s quite good. I told him the other day he’d like it. He’s coming.”
“Really…?” she shrugged (a la Jack Benny).
“He’s going to call you,” I promised.

And he did. And…again….it’s always what you don’t expect.

“I’m going to Bruce’s play,” said The Good One.
“Is Margie coming?”
“Probably not.”
“Will you go if I don’t go?” she asked him.
“No,” he replied. “I wouldn’t go alone.”
“Then I will not go!” she said.
“But I will go with you,” he implored.
“Clearly,” she insisted, “I do not wish to see a show you do not wish to see.”
“If you were not going anyway I don’t want to go.” she said.
“But I AM GOING with you,” he pointed out.
“Please,” she insisted, “Don’t be argumentative.”

Then Hal stopped. On a dime. And why not? My brother is not only educated, but subtly brilliant. Keeping his mouth shut gave him victory on her court. Our aunt would feel good about intending to go if only Hal was going anyway and H, of course, would get credit for being willing to take her. Clearly, if the saga were to end here it would be Win-Win.

It can’t though. Not for the bad nephew. I, you see, must now make a special trip to her house to deliver the program…on an “off week.” And that, please note, mandated a meeting first, with Hal.

What if she asks if he knew of the dedication? If I say Yes she’ll want to know why I told him and not her. If I say No she’ll say that if indeed the performance was dedicated to her she should have been there for it. And did Margie know? And why? And why not?

My brother smiled as I took the field. The ball was clearly coming my way.

It’s always what you don’t expect, he reminded. “You’ll be fine.”

It’s easy for him to say, I thought. Easy for him to laugh. No matter what comes out of my mouth, no matter how textbook-right my answers are, I’m not Hal, I’m Robert…

And Everybody (especially Aunt Helen), Loves Raymond.


Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

                 “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” 

                                                               (Oscar Wilde)

If he hadn’t been so right about “Mad Men,” I never would have tried “The Sopranos.” Once again, though, Michael nailed it. As such, it seemed only fair May 22, that I tell him first. “No haircut in four weeks… “ my email read. “…Shooting for Paulie ‘Walnuts’.’’ It was 8:40 AM and, less than a minute later response came:

“TV is not life,” he admonished. (I guess he didn’t like the idea).

For a moment I thought of writing back. But why? He certainly wasn’t wrong. Still, I pictured his eyes rolling as they often do,…and I was just having fun….Sort of….

It occurred to me, not days later…Michael was wrong, or perhaps not as right as he’d think. I was watching Seinfeld and it was the episode where Kramer bumps into Gail Cunningham, a girl that had basically thrown Jerry to the curb after three dates.

“What did you say to her?” Jerry asked. “I snubbed her,” said Kramer. It was his duty, he noted….his “obligation.”

It reminded me, backdoor, of a real-life scenario that occurred with Ed and me.

Some time ago I’d gone out with a girl—once. It was weird: she asked me to call her again and…when I did…she blew me off! Weiskopf was aware of it as it was clearly fodder for the coffee house. We joked, we analyzed a bit—but at the end of the day there’d been no emotional investment. I didn’t care; he didn’t care. Case closed…or so we thought.

Months later Ed called me.

“Guess who wants to go out with me?”
I knew not.
“Carmella,” he stated. Word had come through Ed’s sister-in-law—she wanted to meet him.
“I really don’t want to,” he said, (but my mind was working).
“Does she know we’re friends?” I asked.
“Absolutely—Donna told her.”
“Then you have to go out with her.”
He hesitated. It was clear my pal didn’t quite grasp the situation.
“You HAVE to go out with her!” I repeated. “If you don’t…she’ll think I vetoed it.”
(The light began to shine in his eyes; it was sinking in).
“Please,” I continued, “You need to at least call her—make contact.”

“I really don’t want to,” he groaned, like a kid trying to avoid overnight camp.

And then I went for the jugular: “When,” I asked him, “Was the last time I ever asked you to do anything…ever?”

Silence. Dead silence.

“I don’t have the time,” he grumbled, “And I don’t want to spend the money…’”

My friend, clearly weakening, then heard my greatest soliloquy:

“That’s bullshit!” I told him. “You piss away more money at Red than anyone I know.”
“Don’t you see,” I continued, “This isn’t about you, or even her. This is about me and my integrity in the marketplace. You have a mandate to protect it.”

It is rare that Ed Weiskopf yields…on anything. It is rarer, though—perhaps never, that he fails a friend. And he didn’t.

It cost Ed less than a hundred dollars to fall on his sword. His example of friendship, however, was priceless.

That was time ago, but in my mind yet again just Monday. We’re in rehearsal for “The Music Man,” opening Friday.

“Bruce,” the director asked during notes. “How would you feel about shaving your head for the show?”


“I think it’ll add something.” he said.

Nodding assent, not particularly thrilled, I thought of the irony. Michael was wrong after all. TV isn’t life after all. Theater, though, just may be… at least until my hair grows back