CALLOW YOUTH and HOW IT GOT THAT WAY

 

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One day in the mid-’90s I was walking along a side-street of the major shopping thoroughfare in Berlin called The Ku’Damm, and I spotted Wallace Shawn sitting at an out-door table at a trendy cafe (now gone) called “Rost”. I swerved right up to him and announced, to Wallace Shawn, that he was Wallace Shawn, and he agreed. I told Wallace Shawn how much certain friends of mine, and I, had loved “My Dinner with Andre”, and how we all, without exception, sided with his character’s world-view in Louis Malle’s delightful two-man film. I asked him what he was doing in Berlin and he told me his girlfriend, “Debby” (the writer Deborah Eisenberg), was there on a Fullbright and that he was tagging along for the adventure. Wallace Shawn was very pleasant and seemed pleased with my comments and soon enough I thanked him for his good work and was on my way.

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The next day I was walking across a wide-open space in the same area and there again was Wallace Shawn, on foot this time. He said, “It’s you again!” and I laughed. He said, “Hey, where can a guy get a beer in this town?” and in one of the two really unforgivable examples of youthful stupidity I have sworn an inner-oath to regret for the rest of my life (the other being the time I turned down the dramatic sexual advances of the middle-aged-and-delicious-looking Suzanne Verdal, of the L. Cohen song “Suzanne”), I responded, in a light-hearted way, “I have no idea, I hate beer!” And off I zoomed, waving goodbye, leaving Wallace Shawn with a puzzled look on his face. Was he thinking that what I had done was “inconceivable”? Inconceivably arrogant, callow, pointless, slap-worthy, self-sabotaging….

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