Yesterday, starting at noon, I had a delicious lunch: a selection of soft cheeses, prosciutto, olivatta, olive oil soaked baby artichokes, grated parmigiana, a fresh baguette & bottle of cold white wine (I drank the WHOLE thing), rounded out by hot coffee & chocolate covered biscotti (pronounced bishcot).
Is your mouth watering? Mine is.
But the most delicious ingredient of all was that I had this lunch in a spotless, sun filled room in a homey triplex on the lower west side, with two sweethearts whom I hadn't seen in much too long. Our hostess: Mary Ellen Silver - nay Schaefer & my date, Ms. Shirley Weiss. Just the three of us (and a King Charles Spaniel named Toby).
I was lucky to have both these ladies (and I use that word advisdely) in my professional & personal life at a time when working in a network news department was fun, honorable, rewarding & extremely satisfying. We were part of a larger team who labored together at ABC News, on a variety of programs, over a number of years.
It was patient work. It took many hours. It was detail oriented. And never in my career while working with them did I ever doubt that these women weren't doing their absolute best at all times, no matter the circumstances, to complete whatever task was before them. And they knew they could count on me for the same. Because of that faith in each other we were a very close knit group. Yes, there were a few others in the group but, honestly, there were really only a very few.
Together we worked on hundreds of hours of television, programs like Good Morning America, 20/20, a host of pilots & specials & probably our least favorite project, the ill conceived 'The Last Word'.
Like many teams in life, this one broke up for selfish reasons. One of the members just had to move on -- me. And afraid to face the 'music', I did it suddenly & surgically: I just didn't show up, didn't communicate, didn't attend a group party.
I hid out, an emotional thief in the night. And it has been that way for the better part of 30 years.
Oh yes, I would run into someone from the 'old days' every once in a while but not in the same context as this lunch where we could sit and talk exhaustively.
Rather than focus on how our form of work had changed for the worse over the years, we focused on the good times, discussing what was important then & now & how you can never go back. And we were a bit saddened that newcomers in the business couldn't enjoy what we had enjoyed because the news business model had changed. No longer was it a public responsibility; it became a profit center.
I'm sure some of our collective memories were romanticized, as all such memories are, but I can say with absolutely certainty that those were very special days, a magical time, a rarified atmosphere of excellence & mutual respect. And I was able to share that with these two ladies.
About four o'clock we hugged & kissed so long.
I was and am one lucky guy.