“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

Leave a Reply