When You’re a Bear You’re a Bear All the Way

I cleaned out the attic and our storage room this weekend, and have uncovered a bazillion photos I need to get around to scanning and writing about. Here’s a pic from around 1999 or 2000 from a birthday diner for Samuel R. Delany.

Chip is probably just holding his cane with his right hand, but I prefer to believe that he’s flashing a gang symbol.

I seem to recall that we got our wires crossed and ended up at the wrong French restaurant, two doors over from the one that we had planned to go to.

From left to right: me, my girlfriend from back then, Chip’s partner Dennis, Chip, a writer named Richard Gessner, and my pal Sang, who died early this year.

4 Replies to “When You’re a Bear You’re a Bear All the Way”

  1. Gil, this is actually a photo from the surprise birthday party Asude threw for me–the only one in my life and only the second b-day party (to this day) ever arranged for me (my dad didn’t believe in them). It was July 4, 1999. This photo is one of seven Asude put in a single frame for me & is now hanging in my room. I turned 36 that year … and yes, you are right there was a mix-up with the two restaurants. But doesn’t this say something about the nature of memory as well?

  2. Hysterical title to this blog post by the way … which slipped past me the first time cuz it’s early & I just woke up after going to bed late. Yr are too g.d. funny …


  3. Dear Gil–I was going to say, yes, this is Vince’s July 4th birthday party, at Tout va Bien, arrranged by Asude. Four doors down at San Culottes Sports is where we’d initially wanted to go, but they’d just closed for good–and had locked their door the day we got there. (Or possibly the day before.) Since they were under the same management, we went to their other restaurant–this one. That’s still going, apparently.
    No, it’s not a gang sign. I was signalling a fellow member of the Knights Templar, who was drinking at the bar, and to whom I had reason to identify myself that evening–but that is all water under the bridge.
    It *is* nice to see us all together again.

  4. Now I remember! Nope, the story’s even better than that. See, the problem was, you (or whomever) accidentally booked the reservations at that restaurant rather than San Culottes Sports. But Asude and her sister thought that we were eating at SCS, and we had no way of reaching them. So the rest of you went to the other restaurant, and I went to SCS in order to come up with a story that would somehow get Vince to the correct restaurant AND manage to make it a surprise party.

    So I hung around the restaurant till the three of them showed up. I jumped out of my skin when I saw Vince, and hurried over to grab him and pull him aside, before Asude would say the wrong thing.

    I hissed, “What the hell are you guys doing here?”

    Vince said, “Asude and her sister are taking me out for dinner for my birthday! What are you doing here?”

    I breathed deeply, and nervously told Vince that I was there to meet another woman.

    See, my old girlfriend was INSANELY jealous of a girl I knew from high school, and we’d recently had a blow-up about it; she felt like K. & I might as well be having an affair, because, um, well, she was the insanely jealous type. Vince knew about that fight, so I told him that I’d spoken to K., and let her know that we couldn’t hang out anymore. I told him that K. was angry about this, and wanted to meet one more time to talk. And so we agreed to meet at the French restaurant on 57th St., behind my girlfriend’s back.

    “The problem is,” I said, “There are TWO French restaurants on this block!”

    I wasn’t sure which one she was in! Was there any way he could go down the street to the other one for me, and see if K. was there? Asude was friendly with my girlfriend, so we couldn’t risk her knowing, because she’d spill the beans about my going to see K. Vince would simply have go down the street on his own, while I kept the ladies occupied.

    Ashen, he said to them, “I’ll be back in a minute,” and hurried out the door.

    Asude and her sister asked me what was going on. I told them that the party was in the other restaurant, and we had to head over, now that we’d given Vince some lead time.

    From Vince’s description, his entire world was shattered as he headed down that sidewalk. He could never imagine in a million years that I’d do something like that to my girlfriend. Then he walked into the other restaurant and a passel of his best pals shouted, “SURPRISE!” and the party was on.

    It was some of the finest acting I’ve ever done.

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