A chocolate-fueled ninja expedition leads to an unlikely encounter... A lot of you knew Poole as a serious man with passionate beliefs and a driving vision. He was that, for sure, but he was also keen to play, with a wicked sense of humor and an enormous, infectious laugh. He rarely let his playful side out except for his closest friends, but when he did, you knew you were in the presence of genius. Nutso, perhaps, but genius nonetheless. I'm glad to say that I was his life-long Huckleberry.
On one of Dad's visits to New York, I suggested we go to SoHo and knock around some of the galleries. He got sick of seeing large white canvases and uniform lumps of sculpture, so I took him to one of my favorite chocolate joints, Jacques Torres. This place is, for NYC, the Palace of Chocolate. Handmade, devilishly good.
Dad being a lifelong foodie (he would actually grunt like a water buffalo when he ate something that pleased him), we had to sample just about everything; the dark, spicy hot chocolate as thick as pudding, gold-leafed truffles, chocolate ice cream sandwiches made of chocolate chocolate chip cookies - you get the idea. We GORGED on chocolate.
An hour later, we were both on a sugar rush that would've killed a diabetic. We got into one of our giggly, collusive moods, which we did often, but this one was fueled by sugar, so it was hysterical. Skipping down the street, past stilletoed women and well-groomed men, without words, we decided we were spies.
We started hiding behind cars and trying to spook each other. We were playing, and it was glorious. If you've never seen a short round man shaking with laughter as he's trying to hide behind a light pole, I encourage you to imagine the scene.
After just a few minutes of confusing the people of SoHo, we spot a painter with his field box on Prince Street, and Dad's army instincts took over. He starts giving me hand signs that mean "KEEP EYES ON HIM! GO! OVER THERE! HIDE AND WAIT!" He does the same. So we start stalking this painter, both of us with wide eyes and insane smiles on our faces. Imagine cats stalking a paper sack.
In the meantime, the painter is calmly watching the sky while adding precise strokes of paint to his canvas. He was actually very good, which excited us all the more.
Dad ran his short legs quickly behind another light pole as I did the same.
Hearing a snort and heavy breathing, the painter turns around, and looks directly at Dad. Dad froze, wide-eyed, the remainder of an idiotic smile on his face.
The painter says "Poole?"
It was Gregg Kreutz, one of Dad's oldest painting friends, an immensely talented guy. He was painting a cityscape, and I will never forget the encounter. (Maybe someday I can afford to buy the piece he was working on!)
We both nearly peed our pants at the coincidence. Worlds collided, Dad's cover was blown, and we laughed about that story for years. He was around 67 at the time, and could still play like the best of 'em.
I think that's my lesson for this week. Playing is good for the soul, and can open you up to chance encounters. That, and chocolate can make the world a brighter place.
Hope you've enjoyed. More later.