My grandfather, Leo, engineered an escape from his nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh on East 72nd street. He walked out the entrance in his bathrobe and slippers, hailed a cab and returned to our apartment at Park Avenue and 84th street, which had been his home until four months ago, when my father convinced Marjorie he really needed to be in a home. With no wallet -or any other possessions- he had to borrow the cabfare from our doorman. He went up in the elevator, found no-one home, went into the kitchen, grabbed one of my father’s chef’s knives, and retired to his old bedroom…where, hours later, we found him peacefully sleeping, the knife clutched in his fingers. “I was going to end it,” he said, when we questioned him, “but I guess I fell asleep.” Well, this gave my mother pause. If her father had so despised the nursing home, had actually contemplated killing himself, then maybe he should be allowed -at age eighty-seven- to return and stay uptown with us. Days later, I was sitting alone at the kitchen table when Leo came in, still in his bathrobe and slippers. “Muh huh” he said, which was his way of greeting you. He sat down to join me. “I was counting ’em up last night,” he said, “the women I’ve slept with, and you know, Johnny, I think, over my lifetime, I must’ve had oh…a hundred women.” I couldn’t help but be impressed, while marveling at his need to unburden himself of this -and to me. Well, obviously, he couldn’t tell his daughter, and he sensed Pop wouldn’t be interested. “Wow, Leo,” I said, “that’s terrific; good for you.” This was in the day of Hugh Hefner, and of course, in his mind, way before that, when those notches on your belt were a source of pride. But the next day, Leo was back, sitting at the kitchen table again. “You know, Johnny,” he said (he forgot he’d told me) I was counting ’em up last night, and I think, all told, I believe I’ve slept with seventy-five women.” And I thought, What happened to the other twenty-five?
Hey everybody: I’m going to London to arrange a reading of my new comedy, Zazou. I’ll try and post from the UK -stay with me, there’ll be fresh material every Monday.