Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

Second chances

October 11th, 2004 · No Comments · NYC

In the days before Commerce Bank took up residence on the corner of 42nd and 9th, there was an family-run apothecary which had been doing business on that very spot for over 20 years. Even though the store still dispensed prescription, it mostly sold high end bath products, lovingly displayed. This was no Duane Reade or CVS.

I walked by the store hundreds of times, but I only had reason to enter once, while specifically looking for some bath indulgences as a gift. After selecting the perfect gift set from a wide array of choices, I approached the glass counter where the older saleswoman was chatting in a rather familiar way with a man, probably a regular customer, casually leaning on the counter. Since it was late fall, the topic was craziness of holiday shopping, and being that we were the only three in shop, they were kind enough to include me in the brief banter. The man said his farewell to the woman, and left the store. I made my purchase, and headed out.

It was one of those brief exchanges, typical in many smaller, less hurried places, but a bit more rare in the cold city. Made a bit more unusual because the man was Lewis Black, a comedian who I admire greatly. The whole time I wanted to say “Hey, you’re Lewis Black. You’re great!” but I thought that would be tacky and awkward and cheesy. I figured even a minor celebrity deserves a chance to be a normal person, so I kept my fan enthusiasm firmly in check.

After I got home, I realized that I could have said something to show my appreciation. Lewis Black is hardly as well known or recognized as a Tom Cruise, so he might actually find some respectful acknowledgement welcome. Here’s a man who’s provided me with many, many deep laughs, and I don’t even say “thanks?” After all, a large reason people become entertainers is for recognition.

Here I was, face to face with my comedic hero, and I choke. A dignified, restrained sort of choke, but a choke nonetheless.

Over three years pass, and I am only a block away from where that store was, walking my dog in the brisk autumn night. I am walking west, towards home, when I look up and see a man bundled up walking briskly towards me. As he passes, I recognize him.

Decorum goes out the window.

“Lewis?” I ask.

The man stops and turns around. It’s him. I apologize briefly for being so forward, but briefly gush my admiration for his talent, and give my thanks for all his hard work. He’s smiling broadly and says “Thanks, I really appreciate it.” We say goodnight and go our separate ways. It didn’t even take a minute.

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