February 11, 2005

Triumphant Return

Eighteen, twenty years ago he interviewed her for the local paper. She was the homegrown actress moving to New York to seek stardom; he was trying out for a regular slot on the arts page.

Now he gets an email from her: “Do you remember me…?” She has the second lead in the touring company of a musical comedy revival that’s coming through town. It’s the biggest break she’s had in a while. As for him, he drifted away from journalism long ago. It’s funny to think that he used to make his living asking intrusive questions of people in distress.

It’s embarrassing how well they recall that interview, though. Where were all the countless interviews that were supposed to have happened in intervening years, to swamp the memory in accolades?

He goes to the show, and visits backstage afterwards with roses. She takes them, looks around for a vase—and there’s no underling to give them to, what is this place anyway? It’s the perfect moment for a snub, a remote “Thank you” that will remind him he’s just another fan, he no longer has the power to give her anything she wants—but she hesitates, and looks at the roses and the man, and something shifts inside her.

“So tell me about teaching,” she says. “What made you go into it?”

And something begins that is better than an interview.