Tuesday, January 13, 2009


“Do you know who I am!”

That’s the template. The prototype. It’s the definitive statement. Stated or unstated.

Cards on the table. Status? Position? Entitlement?

I’m not a fan.

But, like an alarming number of opinions I have…

Nobody cares.

It’s not that I disrespect people. I don’t. Unless they’ve earned my disrespect.

It’s not that I’m unimpressed by legitimate accomplishment. My track record meeting people whose accomplishments I admire is embarrassing. (Case in point: The late, great film composer, Jerry Goldsmith – Hoosiers, Rudy, among other film scores, but those are my favorites. An encounter with me sent Mr. Goldsmith racing to the dry cleaners, asking urgently, “Can you get ‘gush’ out?”

I respect people. And I’m in awe of accomplishment. I just don’t believe that, on the “human” level, anybody’s better than anybody else. I’m unhappy in a world of “special treatment.”

Did I mention this already? Nobody cares. (I believe I did.)

Status exists. Ditto, the consequences accruing thereto.

A personal anecdote:

It’s the late seventies. Dr. M and I are vacationing in New York. Seeing plays, and visiting “The Road Not Taken.” Saturday Night Live is a sensation, and I, who was invited to take part and had turned the offer down, am working somewhere else.

We decide to have dinner at Sardis, a theater-district landmark, caricatures of stage luminaries past and present decorating the walls. We make a pre-theater reservation. We arrive. We check our coats. We are taken to our table.

It’s not a far walk. Our table is off to the side, under the “coat check” booth. I mean, right under the “coat check” booth. Sleeves are flapping on our heads.

We order dinner. We eat. We pay. And we leave.

A couple of days later, Lorne Michaels invites us to dinner. Sardis. We're too polite to tell him we just ate there.

We show up. We check our coats. Lorne hasn’t arrived yet. We are taken to his table.

Middle of the restaurant. Stretch a tape measure – the same distance to every wall. A spotlight is illuminating it from above. (Or so it seems.) There’s no question about it. It’s

The Best Table in the House.

Lorne arrives. We eat. He pays. A lovely dinner.

“Hmph”, I reflect. (“Hmph” meaning, that was different.)

Last night of the trip. We go back to Sardis. I don’t know why. An unconscious science experiment.

We have no theater tickets for that night. We can make reservations for later, when the other diners are leaving for their plays. Avoid the “pecking order.” Sit anywhere we want.

We arrive. We check our coats. We are taken to our table.

It’s the exact same table as the first time.

We look around. There’s nobody there. Every table is available. Where do they seat us?

Off to the side. Under the coats.

This, apparently, was “our table.”

Now, some people are motivated by treatment like this, energized by a feeling of “I’ll show them!” Flash Forward: They’re “Mister (or Ms.) Big”, “greasing” the Captain and swaggering over to

The Best Table in the House.

My reaction to the situation is different. What did I get from the experience?

A story for Tuesday.

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