It hadn’t happened in quite a while. It never happened often. Which is why when it did happen, each time was surprising.
Who answers the door when you knock? Well, usually the person occupying the space behind the door. The apartment’s renter, for example. And since you’re knocking, more often than not, unless you’re cold-calling for a cause, you know who to expect.
Unless, maybe, the dweller is famous. Famous people hire people to answer their doors, among other chores. If for no other reason than they’re busy doing that which makes them famous. Singing. Acting. Creating.
Long ago, as a know-it-all college student, I was trying to put together a benefit concert to support a charity. If I could get a musician to play without pay, then all the concert admission money would go to the charity. Free performance also included their own transportation, road crew, sound equipment, and interrupting their own concert schedule by adding one more venue to it just for me, a perfect stranger to whom they owed no debt or favor.
Nice idea. And especially generous of me, the would-be concert promoter. Philanthropy knows no boundaries.
Back then, it seemed, everyone who was anyone lived in Manhattan. And many had their phone number printed in the big, fat, phone book. Know what a phone book is? Then you are old.
Dustin Hoffman, for instance. It was right there in the directory, for Pete’s sake. And if you know who that is, then you’re really old.
And so I made the long distance phone call, then a big deal, to the semi-famous musician.
A solo artist in a category similar to Bob Dylan, but without the wizard’s fan-base. They even had the same manager. One progressive rock radio hit and a bunch of what today we’d call “deep tracks.” His work was on one of the major record labels – Columbia. It was about the same time as recording mogul Clive Davis was having an accounting “issue” with the firm.
The phone rings, and the man’s voice says, “Hello.”
“Hi,” I chirped. “May I speak with insert semi-famous musician’s name here?”
“Speaking,” comes the answer.
“I mean semi-famous name, the musician,” I helpfully clarified.
“Speaking,” he says, a bit more tersely.
Well, who’d-a-thought? The guy answers his own phone! And he declined my generous offer by directing me to his manager. Who likewise declined.
The other day, I show-up unannounced at an internationally famous sculptor’s studio. We had discussed my visiting, though no appointment had been set.
And he is famous. Sixty large-scale, public sculptures spread-out across the globe. And nearly as many large-scale, very slick books about him.
After climbing the two-story steel staircase to get to the studio, the door is closed and locked. Great. But a sign instructs visitors to knock.
Which is what I do.
You know who answers the door.
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