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Life, Love, Liberty and Lunch

I thought the advent of Youtube would finally lead me to the script for a TV special of the late 70s called Life, Love, Liberty and Lunch. I can find only scant trace of it online. And so I will post sans link.

L4 was a TV special which incorporated four scenes by leading playwrights Neil Simon, Tom Stoppard, Eric von Italie and one more. It might have been Peter Ustinov, and his is the only one I remember. The rest of the program played like Love American Style I think, or Short Cuts. I’m thinking the Liberty segment had to do with the 1976 bicentennial. But the last segment was like I’m Not Rappaport with a big smile.

In the last scene, two elderly gentlemen meet in Central Park, as they do every day, to play not chess, but a game of verbal oneupmanship. Today their contest is to paint the perfect lunch, and they describe every successive course with the zeal of famished itinerants actually pouncing on it. As dessert nears, each is determined to add the last touch. Peter Ustinov played one of the gentlemen and he asked his rival if after reaching cheese, dessert, sherry, and coffee, he could think of nothing else. No, said his opponent, already confident of triumph. Nothing else, baited Ustinov?

You forgot, said the great actor to his old friend…. A CIGAR! No truly great meal could go without, the other concedes, and the two walk of together, to part until the next time.

So many years later, mere mention of cigars still conjures that scene for me. It’s still hard for me to imagine that it could even be true, that cigars improve a post-meal glow, but I’ll take a distinguished elder’s word for it. LUNCH was about anticipating that others, especially others with seniority, can always have something up their sleeve to teach you.

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