Larry King at The Palm

I don’t eat radishes, except when I’m at the Palm. It’s one of my rituals. Rituals are important.   – Larry King
The New York Times Magazine

I am sitting in my office, reading an article in the New York Times Magazine about Larry King. In the opening scene of the profile, King is dining at The Palm in Washington, D.C., and I am thinking about how my old boss took me there on my first day of work at my old firm. That particular boss was a big man, with a booming voice, and…hairplugs, and he was the sort of person you’d expect to see at The Palm, alongside the caricatures of celebrities, including, but not limited to Larry King.

At the time I started that job,  I had been out of work for a year, and had been travelling to Africa, and Asia. I had eaten roast yak meat, and had been roused from slumber by the sounds of bullfrogs and roosters. I had stopped running my toothbrush under the faucet at home when I brushed my teeth at night because it had been so long since I’d been able to drink the water from the tap. I was also freshly out of months and months of intensive therapy geared at saving my failing marriage. I had all but forgotten how to talk to normal people in a workplace setting. 

Somehow, none of the strangers with guns on any of my travels ever made me as nervous as I was that day at The Palm — sitting across from a man with bad hair, wondering if I could hack it back in the Real World.

The Larry King profile goes on to talk about King’s various accomplishments at CNN, and the oddities and complexities of his Life on The Air. For instance, the author claims that King “sat shiva” on CNN the night that both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died.

That same day Michael and Farrah died, I was standing in the lobby of the SeaWorld Orlando Marriott, a grown-up at a convention of college-aged women, trying not to get punched in the face by a woman from New Jersey who was screaming at me that [she] was a leader not a follower.  What the hell was I doing there? What the hell had I done to deserve that? There were TVs blaring overhead, announcing the news that first Michael Jackson had died, and then Farrah Fawcett — all gods dead, all songs sung, all faith in Hollywood shaken. 

The college girls milled around me like I was a barely-submerged iceberg in the stream of tanned, well-heeled Southern blondes. They had been taught to avoid conflict, and I was a beacon of it. I had been humiliated by a trollop in a gold lame gown, while Larry King sat shiva on CNN on the big screens that dotted the lobby. I had no idea how I had gotten to where I was in the first place.

This reminds me that the cat died at the beginning of August. Grace was my grandparents’ cat – she was all that was left of them – and my mother had taken her from Florida over a decade ago when my grandparents’ health began to fail. She had lived with Mums and Daddy until the week that they were to move house. She died days before they moved across town.

Some things just can’t tolerate change, I guess.

The day after Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died; the day after Larry King started to sit shiva on CNN; the day after I almost got punched in the face was the last time I ever left Orlando. I never bothered to go back and find out where my grandparents were buried. I never bothered to go back at all.

Larry King, according the the profile, is fixated on dying. Larry King is planning his own funeral. Larry King wants Bill Clinton to give the eulogy. Larry King will have the memorial service in a synagogue, to honour his mother, but to be clear, Larry King is not religious.

I have not been back to The Palm since that day in Washington. I will probably never go back to The Palm — not the one in Washington; not the one in Tribeca; probably not even the one in the Delta terminal at JFK.

You see, I am usually the kind of woman who Goes Back To Places. This is one of my Rituals. Rituals are important – they help you make sense of the world. But sometimes the world doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes, things fail; bosses suck; relatives die; people misinterpret your best intentions.

Sometimes, the only way Out is Through.

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