Tonight, Jan. 17, I am going to dinner with two old Bronx pals and their wives. We have triangulated our positions and the restaurant we have chosen is "Caffe on the Green" in Bayside. It sits directly on the Queens side of the Throgg's Neck Bridge and it was the beautiful, huge mansion lived in by Rudolph Valentino, the matinee idol of the 1920s.
From 86th Street in Manhattan, from Monsey in Rockland County and from Jericho on Long Island we will come together, Bernie, Marvin and Stanley and their wives.
Two dear friends from an East Bronx childhood, 60 years ago, died this week. Two friends who themselves were good friends died within two days of each other. One was Arnie Bloom and the other was Miltie Cherkes. They both had children and grandchildren and their wives are wonderful, caring women.
Why are we meeting tonight?
The word "affirmation" comes first to mind. We, in effect, are saying this to ourselves and to them, "We the living are still here. We still have our memories of you guys tucked safely in our heads. We will be the repository of those good times, those stickball games and clubhouse parties for as long as we still populate the earth."
I am writing this essay before our dinner engagement tonight. I am commenting on our need to be together in the face of the inevitability of life and even death.
I imagine we will make a toast to our old pals and then toast carefree Bronx days gone by.
We will repeat old stories that each of us has heard a thousand times before. Next we will laugh again at the dumb things we did decades ago. We will ask about our super-wonderful and super-intelligent grandchildren.
We ponder and wonder at the entire process.
Birth - life- marriage - children - grandchildren.
Each of us will then say "It was worth it! Let's do it all again."