And I Did Not Cry
Last night I spoke to Art Garfunkel.
Now, this was not a private conversation. In fact, about 500 people (by Jim’s estimation) bore witness.
We were given a generous and special gift from my sister and brother-in-law, which included tickets to an event at the St. Louis County Library and an overnight stay in a nearby hotel (the hotel is another blog post entirely). The event was an onstage interview with Garfunkel, moderated by a local St. Louis public radio host. Tickets included a pre-autographed copy of his new book, What is It All But Luminous, Notes From an Underground Man.
We knew the seating was first-come-first-served, so we planned to arrive at the library by 4:30 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. event. We spent 30 minutes inside the library before they closed the doors at 5:00 p.m. to finish setup. Doors opened again at 6:00 p.m., so we spent an hour waiting outside. Jim and I were numbers one and two in line, respectively.
Before the library closed, I tried to bargain with the employees: My husband and I will help you set up if you’ll let us stay in here and save the front row center seats. They declined our generous offer, but they did show us where to get in line so we’d be first and we were.
Promptly at 6:00 p.m. the doors opened and we raced to our front and center seats. It was entirely worth the wait, even though it’s still 80-too-many degrees in St. Louis in October.
Here I am in front of the stage holding my book.
There were absolutely no photos or videos allowed during the interview, so no photos of Artie. Which was OK because the interview was fascinating and toward the end they opened it up to questions from the audience.
So of course I raise my hand, and I’m the very last question.
The woman in charge of the event hands me the microphone. I’m about 10 feet from ART GARFUNKEL, y’all.
I momentarily froze. He was looking at me. The first thing that came out of my mouth was:
Me: ( Verklempt and overcome and almost involuntarily): Omigosh I am talking to Art Garfunkel.
AG + 500 people: Loud laughter
AG (Commenting on my top): I love your lace. You know wardrobe.
Me. (To myself): Omigosh a lifelong New Yorker just complimented my clothing. Art Garfunkel just said I look good. (I’m enormously thrilled as I’ve always been a huge fashion nut/clothes horse.)
Me (Aloud to Art Garfunkel + 500 people): Mumble mumble something lame like I try.
Me: First of all, thank you, because 46 years ago you taught me to harmonize. I listened to your songs all the time, and I’d go through them twice. First I sang your part and played it again and sang Paul’s part. I still sing a damned good harmony (I do).
AG: Smiles. Crowd laughs loudly.
Me (To myself): Omigosh I made Art Garfunkel smile.
Me (To AG): For all of your poetry, how is it that you’ve never put a melody to those words?
AG: Good question. They are two different things. Paul Simon is brilliant at it. I tried it and it didn’t work for me.
Me: Second question: The Concert in Central Park in 1981 was a true high point of my life.
AG: Mine too.
Me: I read that you didn’t like your performance. When I heard that, I thought to myself, “What in the world—?”
AG + 500 people: More loud laughter
Me: You were both flawless.
AG: You listened differently than I did; you heard the two of us back together, the songs, the memories … I heard the fine nuances and imperfections …
Me: I still watch it and it still makes me weep.
AG: Smiles at me.
We left our home near Memphis at about 8:30 a.m. and arrived in St. Louis in time for lunch. We met quite a few very nice people, many of whom were amazed that we had driven five hours. I’d have driven 10 hours for this experience.
P.S. Oh, yeah I forgot to mention the book. It’s is an easy read, but, like Garfunkel, it’s a bit strange. He even admitted to being weird, so my saying this should not hurt our new BFF relationship. It’s sprinkled throughout with his poetry, which is quite nice, and is full of expressions of love for his wife and children.