A Special Man

erwin caluya

Her: Hey. I read that.

Me: What?

Her: That book. Are you reading Bossypants?

Me: Oh! Yes. I love it. I think Tina Fey is inspiring.

Her: Yes. It certainly seems like she’s carved out her own path. So what are you doing here, at a bar, in the middle of the afternoon?

Me: Ha. Good question. I was just thinking the same thing…

Her: Ah. But that’s not an answer.

Me: I’m waiting for a date.

Her: Oh. Very nice.

Me: That remains to be seen.

Her: Oh? First date?

Me: Yeah. First date. I’ve never met him.

Her: Is it a blind date?

Me: Sort of? I don’t think people do that anymore. I met him online.

Her: That sounds so exciting. The prospect of meeting a stranger online in real life. That’s not something someone from my generation does very easily. It seems scary.

Me: It’s not. You chat with the guys for a while before you meet up. Just to be sure they’re not a crystal meth addict or anything.

(pause)

Her: What do you do for a living? I’m sorry. That’s a cliche question. I’m not from New York, and when I come here I often wonder how people survive.

Me: Uh… I teach improv classes mostly, and do comedy gigs.

Her: Oh! I love improv! I just LOVE it. It’s magical.

Me: Really? Most people just tolerate it.

Her: No, it’s truly a wonderful thing. So glorious to see people working together, and agreeing. The spontaneity. There’s a real connection between the audience and the actors.

Me: That’s true.

Her: I really love it. I was very fond of a man who did improv – a long time ago…

Me: Did he? Was he good?

(pause)

Her: He was great. I like to think I’m kind of responsible. I took him to his first ever show at the Groundlings. He jumped up on stage with them and started playing.

Me: Wow. Really? Were they weirded out?

Her: No. You’d think they would be, but they weren’t. He was so good at it, even before he took any classes. He was such a natural.

(long pause)

Her: I was married to Phil Hartman.

(long pause)

Her: I was his first wife. He married a few times.

Me: Oh. Okay. Sorry. I thought…

Her: You thought I was the woman who shot him.

Me: For a second, yeah.

Her: No. I’m not. But I know her.

Me: I… That must be horrible. She must be very disturbed.

Her: She was very disturbed, and I can’t say that I’ll ever forgive her. But I’ve gotten to the point where I feel sorry for her. She was a very self-absorbed, very selfish woman. She was like poison for him, but he was so drawn to her.

Me: It can be hard being with funny people. Being their partners.

Her: I’ve heard that, but that was never the case with Phil. He was so loving, and such a wonderful man. He loved making people laugh. It was his reason for living.

Me: I get that.  I do get that for sure.

Her: I know you do. I love improv. I love people that can just do that. It’s a gift. You have a gift.

Me: I’m trying to think of something self-deprecating to say, but who am I to argue with Phil Hartman’s wife?

Her: Exactly. Except I’m someone else’s wife now.

Me: That’s good. So you’re happy?

Her: I am.

Me: Good. Hey –

Her: What?

Me: Did it hit you hard? When he was killed?

Her: Yes. Yes it did. He was my best friend, for a long time. Even after our divorce he and I were very close.

Me: I’m so sorry. He’s one of my idols. He was a great man.

Her: That’s a good way to put it. Can I tell you a secret?

Me: Okay.

Her: The night that he died, I had a dream. I hadn’t thought about him for such a long time. But in my dream I was getting ready to go somewhere, and I was late. And I was annoyed. And my husband was nowhere to be found. And suddenly Phil appeared in my bathroom, where I was putting on my makeup. And I was shocked. And flustered. And he was the last person I wanted to see. But then he put his hand on my shoulder, and all I felt was calm, and warm. I felt loved. And he said, “So many people love you. I love you. And this is all gonna be okay.”

Me: Wow.

Her: I had this dream almost exactly the time he was shot. Very near to that time.

Me: Wow.

Her: I feel like it was him visiting me, one last time. I feel like he wanted me to know that he loved me. And I do. I know he loved me.

Me: That’s amazing.

Her: I feel like a shot. Should we get a shot? What do you drink?

Me: Bourbon. But I don’t –

Her: Can we have two bourbons? I have to leave to make dinner with my husband, but can we?

Me: Yeah. We can.

(pause)

Me: Hey. Thanks.

Her: What?

Me: Thanks for being open. That felt really good. Thank you.

Her: Thank you.

Me: For what?

Her: For being funny. Thank you.

Me: I wasn’t being funny.

Her: I know. But thanks for being a funny person.

Me: You haven’t seen me perform. What if I’m not funny?

Her: I know – but what if you are?

Me: That’s even more scary.

Her: Exactly. That’s even more scary. But that’s a whole other conversation.

6 thoughts on “A Special Man

  1. That was a sweet interchange- thanks for sharing. I love meeting strangers and discovering connection. You captured a beautiful moment that is a good reminder to each of us to say “hello” when we might otherwise ignore and miss out.

  2. Phil was one of the reasons I loved News Radio. The show wasn’t the same without him. And then that damn Lovitz took his place.

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