Friday, November 17, 2006

The Minute You Walked In The Place

Back around 1998 my mother had a heart attack and I flew out to New York from Denver to be with her. I thought I would only be staying at my sister's apartment for a week or two but ended up being there almost a month as my mother's health problems were a little more complicated than we first believed. Twice a day (once in the morning and once in late afternoon) I would take the train up to West 168th and Broadway and then walk over to New York- Presbyterian Hospital to visit her. Twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening) I would ride the train back down to my sister's neighborhood.

One evening when I got off the train I did not feel like going straight back to my sister's apartment and decided instead to stop at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore on 82nd and Broadway. When I got there I wandered around stopping to look at any book that peaked my interest. At one end of a row of shoulder high bookshelves, on the top shelf of the Film and Television section, I found a large coffee table sized book about the history of Broadway musical theater. I started flipping through it and stopped at a full page color photo of Gwen Verdon as Lola in Damn Yankees.

As I stood there I had the feeling that someone was watching me so I turned around. Behind me an older woman with ginger hair piled on top of her head stood smiling at me. She was a little shorter than I am and delicate looking. She was wearing a red pullover sweater, a wide black knit scarf wrapped loosely around her neck, black pants, black boots, and a full length unbuttoned black cashmere coat. I smiled back at her and, still smiling, she turned and slowly started walking down the aisle. I turned back to the book and the second I saw the photo again I knew the women who had been watching me was the same person as the woman in the photo.

I turned and watched her as she sauntered to the other end of the row of bookcases, turned right, and disappeared around the corner. I stepped away from the bookcase I was standing in front of and then stepped to the other side of the row of bookcases to my right and saw a large open space with rows of chairs lined up facing away from me. Behind the chairs was a large poster on a stand announcing that Gwen Verdon was going to be doing a reading in the store at 9:00 P.M. that night.

For a second I thought about getting her autograph for my mother since my mother was a big fan of hers, but I knew I would not because I am not the type of person who would every do that; I felt foolish even thinking about it. I did smile. Syncronisity. Who would have thought that at the very second I randomly opened a book to a page on which there was a photo of Gwen Verdon printed she would be walking behind me?

(Note: "The Game" still has six five titles unnamed. I'll leave the post alone until Monday to give anyone who has not seen it a chance at them.)

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