Al & Me: More Than a Dog Day Afternoon

Broken hearts. Who hasn't had one? Who hasn't wallowed in the drama?

I was a minute out of college and freelancing as a rock'n'roll writer in NYC... It was peace and love and my "Almost Famous" period, though my articles showed up in magazines like Teen Beat, not Rolling Stone. My skirts were micro-mini, my hair was long and straightened and my eyelashes out Twiggy-ed Twiggy. It was then that I met and, three months later, married a rock agent more than a decade older than I. We moved to Chicago and spent our time covering acts at rock festivals, and concerts at the Chicago's Kinetic Playground owned by young Aaron Russo before his movie producing days. Then one Super Bowl Sunday after we moved back to Manhattan, Mr. Older Rock Agent went out to buy a pack of cigarettes and ended up in London with his latest mistress. I cried. I wallowed. I sulked. I pouted. Hell, I didn't get off my couch for a week - giving new meaning to couch potato - I could've peeled, boiled and mashed myself.

It was February when I finally left my apartment. Lying on the couch didn't pay the rent.

Neither would freelancing a few rock'n'roll stories a year. I needed a job, so I found one... assistant to legendary showbiz manager/movie producer Marty Bregman and his partner, Norman Weiss. Marty's clients were rich and famous... Barbra would call, Lainie would drop by, so would other famous faces, but I didn't care. I sat at my desk and moped and wallowed and generally felt sorry for myself.

Marty also represented other newcomers like Bette. One was Al. He was short, had dark hair and had just finished a little movie ("Panic In Needle Park") directed by my friend Jerry Schatzberg which hadn't been released yet. But right then he was heartbroken and unemployed and would come up and hang out in Marty's office or out by my desk. We rarely talked. I don't think he even knew my name. And to me he was just Al who lost his girlfriend.

Avoiding friends at lunch, I brown bagged it. It was spring and we were having a "dog days of August" heat wave. It was too hot and humid to picnic outside by one of Manhattan's fountains, but I didn't want to eat at my desk, so most days I went across the street from the office to St. Peter's Lutheran Church, a beautiful old cathedral with stained-glass windows, carved archways and altars, and high-back clergy "churchy" chairs. There, I'd eat my tuna sandwich on white and continue to wallow, mope and sulk. Unlike Catholic cathedrals there was rarely anyone else sitting in the pews praying or lighting candles at an altar. Soon after I started lunching at St. Peter's, Al joined me. I gave him half my sandwich. He showed up a couple more times. We'd sit there in silence and let the church "vibes" wash over us. I started making two sandwiches. One day he brought chips.

Eventually, I became bored with my wallowing and decided to change jobs. Marty and Norman had hired me because they knew Mr. Older Rock Agent and felt sorry for me, but I definitely wasn't an asset to their company. It was time for me to make a fresh start somewhere else. I found a job at IFA (later to become ICM) as an "agent in training"/assistant, a roommate to share the rent, and chopped off my hair.

A few years later, I had gone back to my maiden name, my hair was again long but no longer straightened, and I had moved on from ICM, writing full time and once again, found myself needing a steady income. The word was out and I got a call from Marty Bregman's assistant. Al, now famous as Michael Corleone, Serpico, and many other roles wanted to produce and was looking for someone to develop scripts, and more or less take care of his office. Would I be interested? Why not?

On the night of the interview it was pouring. I had to be there at 7:00 PM and knew I'd have to walk six long blocks to get there (you can never find a taxi in Manhattan when it's raining). I put on a great pair of Italian boots, jeans, a cashmere sweater, a Ralph Lauren hacking jacket, topped it all off with my Burberry trench coat, grabbed my shoulder bag, my resume and an umbrella and went out into the storm. I arrived a minute late, drenched - took off my wet Burberry and went into an office. There, sitting behind the desk eating a corned beef sandwich (maybe pastrami maybe turkey) on rye, was the Al Pacino. His demeanor told me that. He wasn't just "Al" anymore. He looked great!

We talked. He asked me how I envisioned the job. He ate more of his sandwich. I told him. He had some cole slaw. My stomach growled. We talked some more. He sipped a soda and took another bite. I flashed on giving him half my tuna on white and wanted to grab half his corned beef. I restrained myself. He told me how much the job paid. I told him it wasn't enough. Then suddenly he stopped eating and sipping. I waited. He stared at me - then asked, "Did we date?"

I don't think I stopped laughing for a full two minutes. When I did, I explained. He smiled.

I didn't get that job with Al and ended up working in production for Time Life Films/TV where I met my writer-husband. We became writing partners, fell in love and got married in the Louise Nevelson chapel in the new, modern St. Peter's Lutheran Church in the CitiCorp skyscraper on the old site where I once shared my tuna sandwiches with Al.

My very own happy ending. I no longer wallow, mope or sulk. Well, at least not from a broken heart.