Wednesday, April 9, 2008

facing Kaplans

I did my best to relax and have a good time during my talk at the 92nd Street Y.  That's not easy to do when, facing me, were around 25 keen, critical New Yorkers including the keenest and most critical of all, my own family, six Kaplans in a row.  However, dear friend Bruce beamed at me from the back until he saw that I was doing fine and let his smile slide a bit.  Also there was Andrew Arkin, a childhood friend of my father's.  He is in his mid-eighties and very frail; he warned me that he might not last.  But he did.

I talked for just over an hour, almost getting through it without consulting my notes.  The audience asked good questions; some had even read the book.  A group asked specifically about Jacob Adler, the great actor, and I realised afterwards that of course they must have been Adlers; I was sorry that we didn't get a chance to talk.  I signed some books, embraced my family - Ted had a few corrections, of course, but was positive in an unprecedented way.  This is not a family given to praise, but to my amazement, I received some. 

Getting out of New York this morning was deadly.  I was getting the shuttle bus from 41st Street near Grand Central Station to Newark Airport, which should have been straightforward, but of course they started road work this very morning and closed some streets and no one knew where the bus was going to stop.  I rushed back and forth dragging my bag along the backed-up streets, everyone honking even more madly than usual, the men with their drills, the unbelievable noise, chaos, fumes, crowds, dirt ... Please, get me out of here, was my only thought.

But the flight home was sublime - Porter Air from Newark to the Toronto Island airport.  It left twenty minutes early, we had our bags and were through customs - two cheery guys - in five minutes and on the ferry to shore.  What a wonderful way to land in the city, and on top of that, a hot sunny day.  Home in beautiful downtown Toronto.  The snow has almost gone, the air is sweet.  It may not actually be sweet, but it's sweeter than New York's.  

I do my talk all over again tomorrow, at the Jewish Community Centre here - but it will feel like chatting in my living-room after last night.  


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