On an artsy kind of New York day, I went to meet a friend at the Metropolitan Museum.
We hadn’t rendez-vous’d for more than many, many an overturned hour-glass, but Charlie looked…exactly like Charlie.
His parents were friends of my parents; his father carrying on the family tradition of Charles Scribner & Sons, publishers of classic writers and legends the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Wolfe, Edith Wharton and a prize worthy number of Pulitzer winners.
His mother, Joan, was a beautiful blonde Bryn Mawr graduate and a polished figure skater, even well into her fifties.Charlie once escorted me to one of New York’s elite teenage dances or “cotillions” if you will; one in which you had to choose an escort who was approved by the committee. Yawn.
Charlie made the evening fun, and we still reminisce about eating scrambled eggs at a midnight supper, a first for me.
We found each other on the steps of the Met and headed towards the coat check room.
He had a copy of a book that I had written in my mare’s voice, under his jacket, and he ceremoniously asked me to sign it.
Pinch me once and pinch me twice and pinch me one again. A member of the Scribner family dynasty was taking me seriously as an author, or was at least polite and kind enough to go through the ritual.
Later on, Charlie reviewed my book for Amazon. The review was better written and more poetic than any book I might aspire to write.
Charlie has served as an editor at Scribner’s; earned a P.H.D. at Princeton, and taught Baroque Art in Princeton’s Art and Architecture Department while maintaining his renowned expertise of Bernini and Rubens.
He chose to give me a private tour of the equestrian art of the Metropolitan Museum. He knows that I love horses: Charlie is all chivalry, gallantry, and the best of the breeding silhouetted by an education at Buckley’s, St. Paul’s and of course, the family tradition of pride in Princeton.
After lunch, he gave me a copy of his “Bernini” book, and inscribed it for me.
We took a walk along Fifth Avenue, where a strange looking man was selling copies of “Catcher in the Rye,” with the signature cover, and a byline that was not J.D. Salinger’s.
We assumed that the pen name belonged to this odd man.
“You can’t do that,” Charlie exclaimed, in dismay.
“Of course, I can,” rebutted the author (not.)
Instead of submerging ourselves in the infantile “can and cannot” do’s of this theater of absurdity, we walked quietly on, both acutely aware of the meticulous care and respect that Charles Scribner & Sons had edited, illustrated, stitched and bound into posterity.