Rejuvenating rendezvous-es

gianttub_gill_rickson It was an amazing weekend of colossal proportions.


THING THE FIRST: I got a metric buttload of work done. My fellow squinty-eyed middle-agers reading the actual page will notice a ton of it straightaway; the rest of you can feel free to see here and, HUZZAH!, here for external examples. Oh, and feel free to tell me what you think via this handy device.)

THING THE SECOND: The BF finished a HUGE job and celebrated by cleaning his entire house. Which, I can say now, was a huge job in and of itself. And no, I didn't help; I volunteered for two stem-to-stern tours of duty in that theater and finally realized that if I did it again, we would not last as a couple through the experience. Because neither one of us could take the stress. (Highly compatible people do not necessarily have highly compatible styles of Getting Things Done.)

THING(S) THE THIRD: Heaping helpings of neighborly love! To wit...

  • a joyous, post-cleaning dinner at one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants (oh, lordy, that SALMON!!!) with The BF and a new-and-great friend, Hippie Jan (so named to help differentiate her from L.A. Jan and Chicago Jan)
  • a joyous, post-wedding gathering for an old, dear actor friend and his new, dear bride
  • a joyous, laugh-laden reunion with my old art director, Kevin, who is out here on a production

If you've been following along for awhile, Kevin is known here as the fellow who put together an extraordinary project to mark his 50th birthday: a compendium of anecdotes on life, love, happiness and other interesting things from 50 people whom he felt shaped his life, the idea being that if a man is known by the company he keeps, what better way to find out what makes us so than to go to the source.

We talked a lot about the project, which has been very well received, adored, even, not only by the contributors, but by the people whom they were moved to share the book with. There's been a resounding call on many fronts for Kevin to pitch this as a book-book for wide publication: yes, the stories are specific to him, but they're so specific and so tender and so beautiful, there is something profoundly universal and touching about the whole affair. You cannot read this book and not be moved, seriously.

In honor of these highly moving stories, I'm sharing another of my own submissions, two of seven or so I sent back to him made the final cut. The first was about art and truth and the fire that burns within, but this one...well, this may be my greater contribution, when all is said and done...

xxx c

Image by Gill Rickson via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Story after the jump.

The Request, as it came from Kevin:

Recall some small detail about our halcyon days at Y&R back in the '80s.  It could be a small moment, a particular view, a scent, a color. With any luck it will bring a laugh or at least a smile. Describe it and explain what makes it so memorable and meaningful.

The Answer, as it came from me:

Many, many years ago, when my chief features of youth and vigor were abundant enough to have let me rack up successes without much else going for me, I was graced with a big task: to assist in the launch of what looked to be a rather revolutionary frozen food product.

I couldn't be trusted to do this on my own, of course, so I was partnered with one of my beloved art directors, an equally youthful and vigorous Kevin Houlihan, with whom I had many deep, soulful discussions about the merits of feta cheese omelettes vs. “real” lunch food, and which of us had better hair.

But now, our discussions centered around names. Because this was such a revolutionary frozen food product, as I recall, its Unique Delivery System ensured a fresh taste and crisp texture to the finished product heretofore unavailable in an entrée of its kind, we needed a name that was not only catchy and compelling, but descriptive as well. After all, actual focus groups of civilians had confirmed what we'd all tasted for ourselves in the test kitchen: freshness! Gourmet-quality taste! Beautiful presentation! Complex depth of flavor! These were no mere TV dinners; they were masterpieces of gastronomical proportion!

(You'll pardon the pun, there are far worse to come.)

So we sat in my office, the two of us; he, drinking endless Diet Cokes and alternately pacing or musing from my guest chair, feet on my desk; I, chain-smoking Marlboro Reds, hammering out lists of names on my trusty Selectric™.

Fresh Plates! Fresh Masterpiece! Creative Masterpiece! Fresh-n-Easy Creations! Gourmet Plates! Masterful Creations! Masterful Plates!

And in one moment, we locked eyes, the same genius idea popping into both our youthful, vigorous brains at the same time. I hammered it onto the page, pulled the sheet from the typewriter and we fairly skipped down the hall to our boss' corner office.

"Michael! Michael! Got a minute?"

"Ye-e-e-es?" he drawled, in his inimitable style. (Michael was what you'd call one of your unflappable types.) "We've got it! We've got the name for the frozen food thingy!"

"Mmmm?" he said, leaning back, his face still an imperturbable, pleasant mask. (Michael had been in the business for what I now realize was an eternity by that point.)

Kevin and I looked at each other...and at Michael...and at each other. And finally, in unison, we let it ring out into the room:



Michael looked at us. We looked at him.


He looked at us. We looked at him.


He looked at us and raised a single eyebrow. And, I can't be sure of this, but I'm fairly certain one corner of his mouth turned up ever so slightly, probably at the thought of retelling this over cocktails to various other less youthful, less vigorous parties.

We looked at each other.


There are moments in life that are perfectly Proustian in nature, that send time collapsing in on itself and us back to a moment that, in hindsight, perfectly sums up "happiness" or "love" or "peace".

And then, there are Masterplates