Long ago in a galaxy far, far away….after the marriage aborted, before the century turned—–clearly before my final descent……

Seated at the same luncheon table was an elegant, poised stranger. She had a soft smile, sad eyes, the Ann Taylor look…and no wedding ring! I was living alone then, teasing the poverty level—on the critical list at WeightWatchers. Still, for some odd reason…that day, that moment, this clown felt empowered. She had, as we say, The Look.

They directed our table to the buffet but I lingered. Sensing an opening, angling in behind her:

“Psst…I don’t know anybody here. Do me a favor and act like we’re together.” (Me—the semi-neb that married his first girlfriend opening with that? It was an absolute lie and she saw right through it, but it mattered not).

The afternoon came easy: conversation sandwiched by pauses, gazes, and…. I even used Thousand Island dressing, (rather than the invisible Italian which would hide my sloppiness). That day, that moment in time, I felt comfortable.

Unfortunately, that day ended. Long story short: we were in different places. Our strong connection could not, ultimately, negate her needs for herself nor her mandate to me:

“You’re not over your divorce.”

And so it was. Ultimately she found someone in her time zone and they wed. I was alone when I read it in the Jewish News. Then, perhaps a year or so later she called. Marriage over…looking for a friend….Would I be one?

Our paths crossed little in recent years. Twice at Park, a call when her dad died, …and once at Legacy in ’06. (It was after the weight loss and I had my swagger).

Three times in a decade. Until this week.

My eyes fell on her face as I entered the Berkowitz chapel. She was older (aren’t we all?), but the smile remained soft and the elegance?…well…she motioned me over….

Small talk. Easy talk. She inquired of my kids—grown, away. Gentle banter ‘til I asked about a recent birthday. It was then that her sister interjected with HER question: HOW did I remember the date?

I was ready: “Didn’t you know… when I met your sister I melted?”

A speck of silence and the lights dimmed. The rabbi was entering from the family room….

“Then why don’t you call her…?” came the final pre-game whisper.

They started with the Twenty-third Psalm. For twenty minutes I thought not so much about the dearly departed as that one moment in time. And I thought hard.

The service ended and we nodded goodbye. Quietly, alone, I headed to my car.

Some memories, I concluded, deserve to remain untouched.


  1. Stuart says:

    Harry Chapin could have written a song about this one!

  2. Mark Ermine says:

    I wish I could have been in Cleveland with all you. It sounds like you all had a great time.

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