1996 or ’97 – We were waiting in line to see the Lautrecs at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Some of them were not only original prints, but the original paintings, on cardboard.
Two women of a certain age and certain income, with quiet Woody Allen movie accents, were standing in front of us, waiting their turn. One of them sneezed. “Bless you,” said the other one.
The sneezer thanked her, and became reflective. “You know, I’m convinced that everyone has their own personal sneeze. My sneeze, your sneeze, you know?”
“Whaddaya mean?” asked her friend.
“Well, I’ve thought this since 1964 when we went to see Funny Girl. With Sam (nearly imperceptible pause and glance, nearly imperceptible touch of her elbow from the other woman). We were somewhere down the middle rows, finding our seats and climbing over people. The lights were going down and we couldn’t see. And I had this terrible cold, and I just remember trying to hold back my sneeze and I couldn’t and I just let this big one go – ker-CHOO! And my mother, who was up in the balcony – I didn’t even know she was there – shouted down, “Doris, is that you?”
How is it that I can remember that conversation after ten years, but not the Lautrecs we finally got to see?