UNITED STATES—What year is it, 1974 or 1975? I forget. Gnawing on fingernails is a form of self-cannibalism, which reminds me of that ship that went on excursion after the sperm whale. Oy vey, any hangnail is a tragedy and gristle caught between teeth from beef brisket is a supreme annoyance. Chew my fingernails till they bleed and can taste the salt. If I was still a rabbi, which is what I was groomed for: the contemplative, reflective, didactic life that I was born for—me, a fiery Aries man.
In Judaism, the Zodiac is not sinful or seen as idol worship, no. There’s even an umbrella name, Avodat Kochavim U’Mazalot encompassing all stars and zodiac signs. Stars and signs are not severed from earthly life. Yeshiva University on West 185th Street. You cannot escape the grip of the stars any more than you can go home again. This is the stuff we learned. The path of defining destiny by choosing behavior—life is defined by choice, and these choices negate all the other possibilities. It is hoped that these choices are guided by integrity and values. As a businessman I’m always looking for values and that’s what I found when I bought the petrochemical company that also made Foster Brooks sunglasses.
I paid pennies on the dollar, then again Ted Travers my marking whiz, devised the incredible celebrity association, “Who’s Hiding Behind these Foster Brooks?” Sales went through the roof, and they took a page from my book: they got listed on the stock market named the company after the stock symbol, FBXI. Smart, alright. Smart but he’s no sharker—said our PR wiz emeritus, the same guy Sam kept on the payroll. He actually knew Sam. That got under my skin, smart but no sharker. Not to speak ill of old Bernie.
Worth his weight in gold. He came up with a genius ad approach. So people still ask if there are Foster Brooks sunglasses and they are in fact the number one selling Brand in the U.S. market I’m told. It was like a Who’s Who…“So the magic of Sunglasses to the Stars will go back to work for you in ’68…Will we feature another Academy Award winner like Julie Christie? Another smoldering European like Elke Sommer….Another heart throb like Robert Goulet? Patience. As we go to press the names are still under wraps to make the formal announcement all the more dramatic.”
Great campaign. I achieved striking financial success with the sale of Foster Brooks, but I felt I may’ve sold too soon. This dismal feeling that the West Germans got the better of me. But in the end turned out to be a kind of insurance policy for Rega and the kids, Joel, Maxine and Sarah. An alluring crawl space separates what is from what could be or should be, it makes it automatic and natural, the most natural thing in the world, to kvetch and gripe and mollify and let all this energy and surely energy is G-d to go to waste, instead of being tuned in, so seamlessly tuned us with the holy silence so you can pick up, around the fringes of creation, the music of the spheres. What a cozy trap to fall into. And you say I could be doing something else: woulda, coulda…And then you speak ill of corporate-team members and sow the divisive seeds of disregard and division in the ranks. All for blabbing indiscriminately.
I woulda, coulda shoulda hung onto the Foster Brooks division though, which hasn’t achieved its full value. On the other hand, its sale did burnish my aura of success. Getting through those holidays was hell! All the wishes for health and prosperity, rotting inside with knowledge of the growing void. All the losses from Fifi and with the dozens of zeroes lined up behind, and the German conglomerate already reaping the benefits for what I’d set in motion in the Foster Brooks division. Aaaaaaargh!
I’m snoozing off. . . Are you OK, you sound as if you could use a Kleenex. I’m sorry, sir, if I didn’t catch all of your answer to our interrogation…Tell me about the decisive moment. Was it all planned?
I keep going back and back. There are moments in life when G-d chloroforms us. This I know, I had breathtaking view of Park Ave. With a jolt of rage-joy, I in room 5512, decorated in Rega’s watercolors and oils took off my hat and overcoat. I rammed the heavy briefcase and popped out a circle of glass. I was all numbers and yet my heart was in my throat, both dead and as violently alive as I had been in my fifty-two plus Aprils on Earth.
I said to myself, gingerly plucking the razor-sharp slivers that might’ve cut me as I jumped out, G-d, you’re the boss. It was a final act of delicacy, removing those shards and showing some respect for the handiwork of G-d. Tzedakah, you give as a duty over obligation.
And then I hopped into the void.
To be continued…
Graydon Miller, the Wizard of Fiction, is the author of “LATER BLOOMER: Tales from Darkest Hollywood.”