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A meeting with Papa Nuzzo, by TED KENDALL


It was a freezing evening in New York and my teeth were chattering as I shivered outside of Starbucks on 67th Street and Columbus. Turns out that the little rat out in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, was correct in his weather-reading, shadow-seeing conjectures: six more weeks of winter. And oh, what a wonderland it was.

I glanced at my watch again. 6:15, it read. Maestro Phil Nuzzo, conductor of the novice Metro Chamber Orchestra, was a quarter of an hour late. Great.

Now if not for the bitter cold, I might have succumbed to my own impatient 'New Yorker' attitude, but, given the circumstances at that particular moment, all I could do was hope against hope that Maestro Nuzzo would appear soon. A man in a suit walked past me, prattling away noisily on a cell phone. 'Maestro Nuzzo?' I asked. The man turned and glared at me as if I were completely off my head. Okay, guess not. Then another suit passed on by. Then another. And another.

In the midst of the commotion, I felt a tap on my shoulder. 'Excuse me,' came a voice imbued with a distinctive hilarity that could have originated only in Brooklyn, 'are you, by chance, waitin' fo' me?'

I turned, and my eyes met a tall, brawny man in his forties with sandy blond hair, sporting wire-rimmed glasses and a broad, friendly smile. He donned a flashy red sports jacket that glowed boldly against the evening street light. Across the back, the words 'Ice Hockey Coach' were splashed across in whitewashed print. I glanced at the front collar and let out an internal chuckle as my eyes scanned an epithet, which read: 'Papa Nuzzo'.

'Hmm,' Nuzzo scratched his chin and stared intently through the window of Starbucks, 'looks like there are no seats. Got a full house tonight!' He snapped his fingers. 'Wait, I think I've got the perfect place to do this interview.' And suddenly, he was off (with me trailing along closely behind).

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Copyright © 4 March 2006 Ted Kendall, New York, USA


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