Service of a Great Evening Out in New York

April 18th, 2024

Categories: Books, Conversation, Interviews

I attended an unforgettable interview at the 92nd Street Y this week. The glow of witnessing a lively and extraordinary conversation between two astonishing people—Doris Kearns Goodwin and David Rubenstein—continued to exhilarate and warm me on the bus ride home. The talk and ride were the best of New York, confirming, yet again, why I love living here.

Rubenstein didn’t let the conversation lag on any topic, nudging Doris off one and on to another memory time and again. She wasn’t the slightest bit flustered easily jumping back and forth to answer each question with heart stopping recall of fascinating incidents. She shared firsthand insights with dates and events/turning points of the 1960s—the focus of her new book, “An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s.” And she was funny. She told us that this book wasn’t her fattest and that a reader told her that she’d fallen asleep reading one of the others and that “it was so heavy it broke my nose.”

According to the Y’s program director, David, lawyer, businessman, [founder/co-owner of the private equity firm Carlyle Group], philanthropist, author, former government official and sports team owner [Baltimore Orioles], is often onstage at the Y, and you can see why. He was perfectly prepared, had all his questions in his head after reading the book “in three sittings.” He delivered them without notes with popcorn popping speed. The time flew by.

And while Doris let him lead her most of the time, he wasn’t in control. As he’d done countless times before, he’d step on her last sentence to ask another question. When he interrupted her while speaking about her children, as she’d only mentioned the name of her youngest of three sons, Joe, she ignored his latest question and said that she wanted to finish speaking about Joe, and she did. Joe had received the Bronze Star for Army service in Iraq and served a tour in Afghanistan.

After the talk I strolled from Lexington Avenue and 92nd Street to the Second Avenue bus stop at 86th Street and plopped down in a front seat when the bus arrived. Opposite me was a young man reading a copy of Doris’s book. Each attendee had been given a copy. I reached into my tote bag to pull out my copy, showed it to him, smiled and asked what he thought of the talk. That started a lively 30 block conversation about the interview, the relationship between Doris and her husband Dick, the difference in values between the 1960s and now, music—Mozart and Aaron Copeland in particular, [he is a musician] –and Malcolm Gladwell.

When he got off the bus a woman who had moved closer to us and had listened to our banter, sidled over and asked me if I’d just been to the Y. She said she’d wanted to attend but already had tickets to a concert. We chatted for another 10 blocks.

I walked home from the bus stop on a cloud.

It’s nice to go to events with a friend to have someone to talk to about the film, play, workshop, or talk. It’s not always convenient. But there’s something magical about having the chance to do so with strangers on a New York City bus.

Have you enjoyed similar conversations, as you exit an event or stop for a snack at a nearby restaurant afterwards–or on a bus?

Tags: , ,

6 Responses to “Service of a Great Evening Out in New York”

  1. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: I so would have enjoyed that 92nd Y event. Just put the book on reserve at my library. I’m #95 so hopefully I’ll get it before year-end! LOL!

  2. Nancie Steinberg Said:

    Nancie on Facebook: Can I borrow it when you are done reading it.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    I suspect that many of the seats are taken by Y subscribers. When I signed up the available options were slim pickings yet there were plenty of empty seats around me. I didn’t realize I’d get a book so I signed up for the e-book at the library where there is also a waiting list.

  4. TC Said:

    IT’S MOMENTS SUCH AS THESE THAT, AS YOU SAY, MAKE YOU LOVE LIVING IN NY. GOOD FOR YOU. AND THANKS FOR SHARING. A STRONG RECOMMENDATION FOR HER BOOK TOO. HAVE LONG WONDERED ABOUT DICK GOODWIN’S GENEALOGY. THE CRAVEN LINE CONNECTS WITH THE GOODWINS AT MY GREAT GR’MOTHER. MY DAD’S MIDDLE NAME WAS GOODWIN ( NAMED FOR HER ). ALL FROM NEW ENGLAND. CHEERS FOR MORE WONDERFUL ENCOUNTERS.

  5. Anonymous Said:

    So jealous, Jeanne! I love Doris Kearns Goodwin! I’m looking forward to reading the book.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    TC,

    From the interview I know that Dick Goodwin graduated first in his class at Tufts and also at Harvard Law where he was editor of the Law Review. Clearly this wasn’t a person interested in making the big bucks he could have at a top law firm in Boston, Washington DC or NY. He was so young when he was top of his game, whipping out memorable speeches–sometimes in a matter of hours–for his bosses whether President Johnson or Robert Kennedy. He had a son with his first wife who had died when he met Doris.

Leave a Reply