Uit: The Play Goes On, A Memoir
„In the days and weeks following, I walked through the streets of New York like a somnambulist, having to look up at corner signs to see where I was. Not that I was walking in any particular direction, or with any specific destination in mind. I walked through Bloomingdale’s, fingering shirts or jackets without the slightest intention of buying anything. I was constantly looking at everyone who passed by, with the preposterously illogical hope that I might see Joan. There was always the possibility that the doctors had been mistaken about her death, or, just as unlikely, that I merely dreamt she died, which would explain the foggy, half-awake state in which I existed. The memory flashed in my mind how sometimes, before Joan ever got ill, I would be walking down a street and would glance up and see her looking in a store window. She would turn and see me, and we would both smile, thinking the same thing: “We just had a free one” — meaning an extra time of seeing each other, one we hadn’t planned on.
I climbed the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue, and wandered through the great exhibition halls, delving into Egyptian antiquity. Then I went up the stairs to the paintings of Matisse and Renoir, Van Gogh and Rembrandt; I stared at the John Sargents I loved so well, remembering when I first saw them with Joan. With her at my side, I had the added advantage of having her fill me in with minute details of the painter’s art, most of which I might not have noticed on my own. For me she was like one of those tape-recorded talking guides you rent as you enter the museum, except with this one, you were allowed to hold the hand of this guide, or watch her hair bobbing up and down as she tried to peer over the crowd to see the museum’s latest and most talked about acquisition.
On the day I chose to revisit the museum alone, I suddenly heard a voice directly behind me.
I turned and looked.
“I’m Carol Mantz.”
She said her name as though I should know it, but I didn’t have a clue as to who she was. Or maybe I did know her, but like everything else in my life at that moment, I couldn’t fit the pieces together.“
Neil Simon (New York, 4 juli 1927)