Jan 16, 2007

Downward Mobility

With the fire crackling, red wine at the bottom of glasses, yawns and the desire for one more story, there was this. A man who founded one of the most prominent acting companies in the state fell into ruin. He was fired, the reasons are not clear. He moved to Los Angeles and became a maitre D; the name of the restaurant didn't come to mind, but you could imagine a cafe for the well to do, the kind they have on 3rd Street in Santa Monica. No doubt some of the waiters were actors. He probably got along very well. Meanwhile, he explained the menu, no doubt with a flair, on a good night. On another night he probably looked at people a little strangely. Perhaps, he had seen them before at one of his productions. Perhaps, he looked familiar to the them. But in the end he did just as any of us would do, if we had to, if there was no choice, he took the order with a smile and returned to the kitchen. But then one night the new Maitre D' bought a pint of Hagendaz ice cream, went home, ate it, and then killed himself. How he did it was not known.

Twenty years ago or so I met a woman in Hollywood. She was Viennese, had married well and had two children. She was quite beautiful and well educated. But then her marriage fell away. You suspect she had dalliances, or she was not up to the drive and standards of her husband. He was an architect. She lost her children to her husband. She moved to Paris and for a time received alimony. Then it stopped and all her begging could not start it again. She moved to America and then to Beverly Hills and got a job at I. Magnin. She worked in the glove department and wore the gloves to her elbows as if she owned them. She lived in a one bedroom apartment north of Hollywood blvd. She had well to do friends and from time to time confided to them about her life. Once, she told me that her father had been a fascist and turned in several Jews to the Nazis.

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