My forays into writing have led me to all sorts of characters - literary and otherwise. I met one of the most fascinating men I know at one of my book signings. His name is Stanley Gordon. From that day on I called him "Uncle Stanley" because his last name is the same as my protagonist, Leah Gordon.
Stanley recently turned 90, and I wondered how he was doing. His partner, Joe Henry, is younger but has had some medical problems. They live in Pasadena, Calif., and we spent many happy times together when I lived in the same area.
The two recently came for a long overdue visit - I hadn't seen them for more than nine years. Alerted by the dogs barking, I ran outside to greet them. They had aged some but as happens when you haven't seen someone in a long time, they appear different at first glance but after laughing and talking, they look the same as you remembered.
Stanley is the author of "My Two Wives and Three Husbands," a well-reviewed memoir of his life, including personal, professional and show-business adventures. Joe was senior vice president for the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena for many years.
Not only was Stanley successful with his career as an optometrist but he became a backer for several Broadway shows. He and Joe know people from all walks of life, and I was thrilled to be included as a guest at several of their soirees. My husband and I loved going to their parties where we met artists, actors and writers. Joe is 6' 8" and the high-ceilinged home where they live off Linda Vista in Pasadena suits them perfectly.
One evening I told my husband that we were invited for dinner by Joe and Stanley. For days we contemplated the extravagant meal these world-traveled sophisticates would serve. We guessed anything from chicken Kiev to pheasant under glass. To our surprise they'd prepared meatloaf, mashed potatoes and apple pie with ice cream! What could be better? It was an evening I never forgot, with great food, stimulating conversation and tons of laughter.
A few weeks later I told my husband it was our turn to have them for dinner. They arrived right on time, drinks and canapés were served, and after about an hour I stood up.
"OK, time for dinner. Put your jackets on. We're taking you to our favorite Chinese restaurant."
Stanley laughed. "I knew we weren't eating here. The first clue was the table isn't set."
Each time we got together after that we would joke about my failure to prepare a meal for them.
During their recent visit, we had brunch at my home, and conversation flowed. We talked about mutual friends, places they'd traveled to and how much fun Stanley had writing his book. Stanley gave me some hints on promoting books that I will share with my students at the writers' workshop I conduct at the Oro Valley library.
After almost three hours Joe looked at his watch. "We could chat all day but need to get going," he said. "Sedona awaits us."
There aren't too many things I miss about Los Angeles, but there are certain people with whom my heart aches to spend time. Stanley and Joe fit that category. Watching these delightful friends leave brought tears to my eyes. I hated to see them go.
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