According to Noah Webster, (that guy who when his wife said, “What do you mean I look fat in this dress?” responded in monotone assuredness, “Corpulent, fleshy, stout, beefy, plump, rotund and bulky.”) the definition for the word coincidence is, “an event that might’ve been arranged although it was really accidental.”
Well if Noah got that right (and who could doubt such a defining figure?) the events in the following story qualify as coincidence. Major coincidence! For they all came together quite by “accident” yet the script was “arranged” indeed by the gods of serendipity. And for your friendly bartender just as accidentally to have been written into that script, makes him more than grateful he’s a bartender.
The accidental arrangement…
When first-time visitors enter our friendly confines they usually stop in the entryway first, just inside the swinging doors, to take in the rich ambiance they’re about to enter. For they’re immediately taken aback by the wall-to-wall photos reliving the past from the worlds of sports and theater. It’s like a museum. And so when this thirty-ish couple walked into the place (she a sportily attired, raven haired beauty and he her equal in slacker-wear) and not only stopped in the entryway first as is that usual wont, but proceeded to lap the room in wide-eyed approval, a deer stalker’s cap was not required for your friendly bartender to muse, “Here come first-timers”.
“First time here?” I said, as I set down the two bottles of Amstel they had requested. “Gee… is it that obvious?” she replied, while her friend just smiled his response in amiable concert. “Well,” I said, (wishing now that a Meerschaum pipe were clenched between my teeth) “when you took out your cell phone and started snapping pictures, I somehow figured you didn’t have a house account.” They blushed and chuckled.
A few minutes later, after giving this couple a verbal history of the lore that is our establishment (which I gladly do when I’m not too busy) the guy spoke up for the first time and asked, “Do you get many celebrities in here?” “No, not that many,” I said, “but we happen to have one here now, sitting across the room at that corner table.” Then I pointed to the nonagenarian who was sipping his tea and scribbling on a yellow legal pad. “Who is that? they asked in unison, knowing a Mick Jagger when they don’t see one. “That,” said your friendly bartender, “is the great Budd Schulberg.”
Now for those of you who don’t know the name which I fear is quite a few of you, Budd is a legendary writer who in addition to being a celebrated chronicler for decades on the “sweet science” of boxing, is a novelist and revered screenplay writer whose most noted credit in that field is “On The Waterfront”. It won an Academy Award. And when your friendly bartender shared with this couple that last bit of Budd Bio, Raven Hair’s eyes quickly widened, she slammed down her glass of Amstel and choked on the mouthful of beer she couldn’t quite swallow.
“Are you okay?” I blurted, fully prepared to leap over the bar and administer mouth-to-mouth til her friend pulled me off, but then I saw she was going to make it so I stayed put. “Did you say ‘On The Waterfront?” she shouted, “with Marlon freaking Brando'” “I did,” I said. “Well you are not going to believe this,” she continued, “but just two nights ago back in San Francisco my girlfriend called me up and said, ‘Ya’ wanna come over and watch this movie I rented? It’s like really, really old and it’s in black and white and stuff but it’s supposed to be like this really, really great film.’ So I went over and watched that movie and it was totally freaking On The freaking Waterfront!”
Now I don’t know about you, dear reader (for of course, how could I?), but in your friendly bartender’s assessment of this most magically arranged accident, for a fifty two year-old movie to have somehow been seen by some person, a person now able to gladly swallow her beer again, and then for that person to chance upon the writer of that movie all the way across the country just three days later, falls somewhere to me within the confines of winning the Lottery. I mean, what are the odds?
So your friendly did at this point what any bartender would do… he walked over to Budd, told him what had just happened, and asked if the raven haired beauty could come say, “hello”. And of course Budd agreed being not only equally amazed at all this but as much the perfect gentleman as he is the writer, and the two of them spent about twenty good minutes discussing the film and this thing called serendipity. Truly amazing!
But watching the two of them, and later the three of them as her friend eventually joined them at the table, your friendly bartender couldn’t help wondering just how this incident would be shared with her friend back home.
Would Raven Hair… A: play it cool and toss off dismissively, “Oh, by the way, when I was in New York I (yawn) had a marvelous chat in some bar with the guy who wrote that movie we saw, oh, what the heck was the name of it? You know, On The Water or something?”
Would Raven Hair… B: bolt into her friend’s apartment screaming at the top of her lungs, “You are not going to fucking be-lieeeeeve this but… when I was in New York… I met… are you ready for this?… Budd fucking Schulberg, the guy who wrote On the fucking Waterfront. A movie he wrote fifty two fucking years ago!!!”
Or would Raven Hair… C: say with a curved smile and lids at half mast, “When I was in New York I was introduced to some writer guy by the most gorgeous, erudite, thoughtful, fabulous, sweet hunk of a bartender you ever saw.”
I say “B” but then your friendly bartender has long been revered for his stout sense of humility.
End of story.
PS: If you’ve never seen this classic, NetFlix the shit out of it. It just happens to be (speaking of coincidence) my all-time favorite movie, bar none. I’ve probably seen it at least fifteen times and it still holds up. This was when Marlon Brando (pre buying his very own island and sitting down and eating it) was simply known as Brando, the most electrifying American actor yet to come along. He was also quintessential Brando in another classic, A Streetcar Named Desire. I recommend that as well to all you youngins’ out there who haven’t had the pleasure of either.
PPS: It might be kinda fun, dear reader, if you leave in Comments the name of your favorite movie… if for no other reason but to see who says Porky’s III. And to start things off, my own favorite all-time movie, (after, of course, On The Waterfront), is the masterpiece by David Lean… Doctor Zhivago.
Over and out from Bar-land… See ya’ next week-end!