From Bruce Anecdotes
• Strange things happen in society. Glyndebourne was John Christie’s ancient manor house in England. Once, his butler, Childs, interrupted a breakfast with bad news: “I’m sorry to disturb you, sir, but the cook’s dead.” One of the guests, a general, spoke up: “Under the circumstances, do you think I could get another sausage?” By the way, an American once asked Mr. Christie how he had gotten the Glyndebourne lawn to be so perfect. Mr. Christie replied, “It’s easy—just mow it for 200 years.”
• Feodor Chaliapin sometimes clowned around on stage. During a performance of Mefistofele in Columbus, Ohio, he made co-star Claudia Muzio break out laughing by singing in Italian in front of the footlights, “Are we going to get a good spaghetti after the performance tonight?” By the way, while in America, mid-1950s Metropolitan Opera basso Cesare Siepi ate American food for a good reason: “In Memphis, how can I trust a plate of spaghetti? I have broiled meat and a salad.”
• Kirsten Flagstad was modest. Hearing that a flower had been named after her, she protested, “But you can’t do that! It wouldn’t be sensible! In my country, they name flowers only after important people!” By the way, Heinrich Conried’s love of rich food did affect his life negatively in one way. He kept a box of bicarbonate of soda near him, and occasionally after dinner, he would reach for the box and say, “This is my lifesaver!”
• Professional musicians are often asked to entertain at the dinners they attend. A wealthy society woman asked Fritz Kreisler to come to her dinner and to bring his violin, but he replied, “My violin never dines out.” By the way, French composer Jules-Émile-Frédéric Massenet refused to have an Opus 13. His works are listed as Opus 12, Opus 12b, Opus 14.
• Russian baritone Feodor Chaliapin sometimes grew weary of hostesses who invited him to dinner, then pressured him to sing for the other guests. He told one such hostess, “If you ask me to dinner, you feed me. If you ask me to sing, you pay me.”
• Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz started a kosher deli named Maven’s in 1988. On the menu appeared the slogan “Famous Since 5748”—in the Hebrew calendar, “5748” is equivalent to our calendar’s “1988.”
• In Rialto, California, choreographer Twyla Tharp’s parents built a drive-in theater, where she ate many dinners of such courses as candy corn, popcorn, ice cream bonbons, and Coke syrup.
• Ballerina Natalia Makarova says that impresario Sol Hurok was a “devoted gourmet.” Mr. Hurok once took her out to eat at a restaurant in Connecticut—the dinner lasted for five hours.
• Penn Gillette of Penn and Teller fame respects thought. Once, he was taking a now-former girlfriend out to eat, but he needed to get some writing done first. It would take about an hour, and after apologizing to her, he said, “You can turn on the TV; my iPod has music on it and there are headphones right there. If you want to go out, my car keys are right there and there’s a Starbucks in the lobby. I have a couple books there if you want to read and there’s a magazine or two ….” But she said to him, “I’m fine. I’ll just sit here.” Penn asked her, “What are you going to do?” She replied, “I’ll sit and think.” In his book God, No!, Penn writes, “She’s still one of my best friends and an inspiration.”
• A college professor once got upset because his students were only half-listening to his lecture, and he told them, “I’m offering you a dollar and you’re taking only fifty cents.” A friend of author Peg Bracken was in that course, and she says now that she didn’t take even a nickel, for she can’t remember the name of the course. By the way, Ms. Bracken has a friend who enjoys going to sleep, so he does it twice each night. He sets his alarm for 2 a.m., so that when it rings, he can shut it off and go back to sleep.
• Robert Benchley met Donald Ogden Stewart on a rainy night as they were both coming out of a restaurant. Mr. Stewart saw a passerby with a large umbrella, pretended the passerby was a taxi, and took his arm and said, “Yale Club, please.” Mr. Benchley then took Mr. Stewart’s arm and said, “Can you drop me off at my place? It’s on the way.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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