Friday, February 01, 2013

Ed Koch

I ran into Ed Koch only once in my life, or more precisely, he ran into me.   For a brief moment we shared the same airspace in the doorway at Japonica, the Japanese restaurant on University Place in Greenwich Village, except that "shared" offers  not quite the right nuance.  He was incoming at a much higher velocity than I, departing, had yet achieved and had I not then still been swift of foot, we might have ended in a major pileup.

That's it, no more story except this: until I saw him approaching at great speed, towering over me, I had thought Ed Koch was short.  My New York friends (who have probably exited more Greenwich Village Japanese restaurants than I) are wont to sneer: of course he was a big guy, he filled the space.  But that's the thing: he filled the space the way a little guy fills the space.  Napoleon, for example.  Or the parakeet in Herb Gardner's Thousand Clowns who says "stand back, I'm an eagle."  Now that I think of it, the only  other time I can remember laying eyes on Koch was while he was still a Congressman and I was a reporter: he was on the rostrum of a committee room, peering down at some hapless witness like a gargoyle gazing balefully down at the tourists from the parapet of some ancient cathedral.  There, too, it was easy to mistake him for short.


Ken Houghton said...

I ran into him multiple times, and remain convinced he was short.

He was, however, short in the "I slump so you don't know I'm 5' 8" or so" way of a driven personality.

He also had the greatest relationship with the press of anyone: even after he left the mayorship, his near choking to death on pork fried rice was reported to protect his image.

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

This was my wife's experience, as well--she was convinced he was short, until she saw the cove.

But who could look shorter than a bald Jewish guy in a rumpled suit? Even if he isn't?