Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Golden Handcuffs

We went to dinner with our friend Mr. Delinsky last Sunday. We went to a favorite hangout, Marin Joe's in Corte Madera. His name is Harold but I never call him anything other than Mr. Delinsky, even when I'm giving him a hug and a kiss and telling him we love him. We do. He's a little guy originally from the Bronx, thin with a hank of grey hair and an Important Nose. He came to California while he was in the Army. He thought he might become a veterinarian at some point and was in charge of the commanding officer's horse.

He never went back to New York to stay after that. It's hard to take the Bronx out of the boy and all he has to do is speak a word or two and you'll know where he's from. At some point he became an insurance adjuster. That's how he met my husband. They met some real characters together in their jobs as insurance adjusters, most of them other insurance adjusters. They were two nice guys in a world that wasn't necessarily so nice to them.

Mr. Delinsky never married even though he still has an eye for a beautiful woman. I can tell he was shy, still is. I suspect he never could feel right about a long term commitment either, the adjustments, the compromises, the indignities. My sense is that he didn't think someone would feel that way about him. He had a dog that he loved. The dog has been gone a while now but he doesn't think he will get another. I teased him once that I was going to find a rescue dog for him for his birthday. I didn't realize that this would upset him or cause him anxiety. It did. Mr. Delinsky doesn't like to be pushed into situations. Everything was better when we both told him we wouldn't really force a dog on him.

He's a gentle man, Mr. Delinsky. He loves Broadway and show tunes. He loves listening to good live music as long as they play the standards. He's always trying to get me to sing with the piano player at dinner. I did once. I'm not sure I would do it again. I'll sing to him at the dinner table though. He loves that.

We went to the Top of the Mark one evening to listen to Riccardo Scales. We met Jeff Labes at Marin Joe's and caught a special dinner show with Jeff and LynAnn King, a Johnny Mercer revue at a cozy Italian restaurant called Aurora in Marin County. We went to a special engagement at the Jewish Community Center featuring a torch singer. His crush on her from afar was clear, so I took his arm and slowly walked him to the table of CD's in the lobby where she stood after the show so they could talk. It was magic for him.

Mr. Delinsky is in his 80's. He plays tennis. He meets his old cronies in the City. His nickname at Marin Joe's is "Dino." People mistake him as someone who would be a member of the Rat Pack, but he's a little less flashy, a man of manners and humor. He is always so stunned that we love to spend time with him.

We have no need to try to arrange a date for Mr. Delinsky. We know he's a confirmed bachelor. We like having him to ourselves anyway. He's a Leo and he is like a little lion who is comfortable in his territory. And yet, he's still got a few surprises, Leo-style.
Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

"You know that YouTube thing?" he rasps over Jeff's piano-playing, a song too modern to interest Mr. Delinsky. "YouTube, right?"

We nod, suddenly curious. Mr. Delinsky is not a computer guy. We want to know the YouTube connection.

"This guy," he continues, "this guy does movies. Real movies. He asks me will I do a movie. I think he asked me because he thinks I'm the only one who would actually do it."

His eyes twinkle at the danger of an acting debut.

"So I said yes. It's something about Rudy Kaputnik. How do you spell that?"

We venture a guess.

"Look it up." I get out my new phone and finally find it. It's The Rudi Kapootnik Story. I play it for him.

"Can you see that?" He points to the tiny screen.

"Oh, look, Mr. Delinsky! You're a movie star!"

He beamed shyly. He told us about the next project his friend has cast him in. He has misgivings. The subject matter doesn't exactly match him. His friend wrote the piece with him in mind, though, misunderstanding his shy and respectable side. He doesn't want to hurt his friend's feelings. We talk about the possible alternatives. He's going to think about it.

He's a lovely example of a modest American dream. Have a house. Maybe a dog. Meet some friends for tennis or lunch. Fall in love from afar. Chase your favorite music. Try something completely different like starring in a movie. His retirement is small but has its satisfactions.
Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

I think about my own working future. I'm on the "work until dead" plan myself. But I have so much to learn from Mr. Delinsky. The next time someone tells me I have "golden handcuffs" at work, I will think about him and the 8 of Swords and Strength. They look like handcuffs to some, but I know I have deliberately set the thoughts around me with the Strength to stay for a reason.

Best wishes.
Watch Mr. Delinsky starring in The Rudi Kapootnik Story. And if you wonder what America is really like, here's the real Mr. Delinsky, our adorable friend.

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