Monday, September 29, 2008

The Other Blue Eyes

I live in New York City, at the very fringes of a neighborhood where mogul, captains of industry, Hollywood stars, and masters of conspicuous consumption also reside. And like all New Yorkers, when I see someone famous I tend to look at them once, and then studiously ignore them, respecting their privacy, and understanding that even though they're famous, in their own hometown they deserve to live a normal life.

Longer ago than I care to remember, She and I had taken her mother out to a neighborhood coffee shop, a diner with European asperations, for lunch. It was the middle of December, and her mother had come to the city for Christmas shopping. We were seated at a corner table, and I took no notice of the couple that was seated next to us. The waitress came over to take our order, and then turned to the table next to us. And then I heard that voice.

"Would you have anything as daring as iced tea?", the gentleman to my left asked, in a voice that I had heard hundreds of times, and I did the involuntary head snap to see just who it was. And I fell deep inside his incredible blue was Paul Newman, having lunch with a friend. His smile was brilliant, the crinkles around his eyes magnifying his charm, and in an instant I was transported back to all the movies I had seen him in. And then, like a good New Yorker, I turned back, respecting his privacy, allowing him to have his lunch in peace the same way that I was having mine.

It was the first of many times I was to see him in the nabe and in the city...sometimes he was just strolling down 5th Avenue, sometimes he was shopping in the local Korean deli, trying to get the owner to stock more of his pasta sauces, sometimes he would smile or wink, giving the index finger on the side of his nose sign from The Sting, sometimes he just rushed by, hurrying on an errand. I saw him occasionally at the theater, growing visibly older and slightly more fragile looking and rickety, once talking to himself and referring to himself as Pops. I saw him at a Chantecleer concert in a church in Connecticut, visibly not wanting to be there as much I didn't want to either, but beholden, either to the church or his wife, owing the time and paying his dues.

His good work and his good works will live long into the future, and should serve as a model for others, both in show business and not.

And the Lad bears his name, because I realized at the naming time that all the Pauls I knew were the nicest people.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for comment on my blog...Didn't realize that my email wasn't accessible, but it is now. Thanks for the heads up.

Paul Newman is the only celeb that I ever met and actually got to spend some time with. Long story, but you are right, he was an amazing man in many ways.

I hope that you will stop by and visit again. I'd love to put you on my blog roll :0)

Spring said...

Newman is my dad's only celeb story. Back during the filming of cool hand luke, we lived in CA. My dad, the 'artist,' brought in money working at a pizza joint. It was the kind of place that had a ledge for kids to stand on and look through a window to see their pizza actually being made. I remember one time watching daddy make a pizza.

Anyway, one evening apparently Newman and a couple of people came in after filming and ordered a pizza. My dad recognized him and offered to pay for his pizza if Newman would autograph the check.

Now, a dad with three hungry little mouths to feed shouldn't be offering to pay for Newman's dinner, even back then. But that's who he was. And he still has that autograph and still tells the story.

And the one thing that disappointed me about the story was that apparently Newman took him literally and autographed the check and let my dad pay for it. I kind of think he should have given the autograph, and still paid for his own pizza. But I've forgiven him because of who he has been throughout his life. ;)

moonheart said...

Such a sweet lovely post. Yeah Paul Newman and his beautiful eyes. *Sigh*
I also find it very special to read stories from a real New Yorker so many miles away but also so close 'cause i'm reading it right here in my home. I've never been in the USA but it's nice to 'meet' Americans thru blogging.

Sweet greets from moonheart; the Netherlands