Met a girl at a party. Dimly lit, but I could see she was gorgeous. Big eyes, a wide smile, a quietly feminine manner without a hint of flirtatiousness. She told me her name was Shari. Looked to be in her early twenties. I was maybe five years older, certainly louder and brasher than she, but I subdued myself, matching her attitude to speak with her. At the end of the evening, I asked her Would she go out with me the following Wednesday…and she said yes.

She lived at 300 West End Avenue (I still remember). She showed me around a spacious, pre-war apartment. I was amazed to see two gold records on the wall of the hall, and, next to the dining room,  a fully equipped recording studio. “Yes,” she told me off-handedly, “my father’s.” She seemed dismissive of this, as if it embarrassed her to talk of it. Riding down in the elevator, I saw she was of mixed-race, reminiscent of a young Dorothy Dandridge, yet even more exotic and appealing, in her demure way. We went to the Village to see a movie in a revival, Judgment at Nuremberg. Not what you’d call a Date Movie. It was sombre and meaningful in the most Significant, Stanley Kramer way. Made me hesitant to put my arm around her shoulder. We sat there in strained silence, watching the film. The elephant in the room was How to initiate physical contact?

Afterwards, we got on the subway and came straight back to West End avenue. Conversation now seemed a little forced, her manner towards me had grown slightly reserved. I was abandoning any hope of a goodnight kiss. I saw her downstairs to her elevator. “Would you like to come up?” she said. “Maybe my father’s home.” She seemed more welcoming, now that she was within her own precincts. Maybe there was still hope for that kiss. We rode the elevator up, emerged into the foyer. Voices were coming from the living room. She took me by the hand, pulled me into the living room, which was dominated by an L-shaped couch.

Sitting there with his wife, Julie, was Harry Belafonte. They were sitting with Marlon Brando. Brando rose. I saw he had a kid’s cap pistol in his hand. “Hi,” said Harry to the two of us. “Where’d you go?” “We went to the movies,” said Shari. “What’d you see?” “Judgment at Nuremberg.” This gave him pause. I felt an explanation was necessary. “It’s a revival,” I said, “we wanted to see it before it disappeared.” Introductions were made, I shook hands with the two men and made a slight bow to Mrs. Belafonte. I turned to Brando, whom I knew was appearing on TV the next night. I gestured to the cap pistol. “You getting ready for David Susskind?” I asked him. Brando didn’t smile, but he turned the pistol over in his hand.”I like to stay protected.” he said. I don’t remember much more, but it was an amazing capper to my date. And no, sadly, I never saw Shari again. I see by Wikipedia she’s having a nice career.

           Harry Bellafonte                      Marlon Brando