David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Food, Friends

Food

• A Quaker preacher named John Parker once stopped at a hotel, where he was seated at a dinner table with two other preachers who were not Quakers. A waiter appeared at their table and left a dish on which were two fish. Each of the other two preachers took a fish and put it on his plate, and then they bowed their heads in prayer. As they were praying, Mr. Parker took the two fish from off their plates and returned them to the serving plate. After the two preachers had said their prayer, Mr. Parker told them, “Friends, my religion teaches me to watch, as well as to pray. We shall now cut the fish into three parts.

• Servers can be overly friendly. A waiter once asked an elderly Peg Bracken and one of her elderly female friends, “And what will you have, young ladies?” Ms. Bracken’s elderly female friend gave the waiter a one-finger salute. At another restaurant, Ms. Bracken overheard a headwaiter tell a busboy, “Take care of the dandelions in the corner, OK?” Ms. Bracken looked and saw six white-haired old ladies, who did look like dandelions whose seeds were about to be scattered by the wind.

• French operatic bass Pol Plançon enjoyed rich food, but as he grew older people worried that his taste for rich food might harm his operatic voice. When Italian baritone Antonio Scotti approached him with this fear, Mr. Plançon replied, “My dear friend, I shall live but once. And I can pay no higher tribute to life than to enjoy to the full all the fine things it has to offer.”

Friends

• Puff Daddy was best friends with Biggie Smalls, aka the Notorious B.I.G., who was murdered. After Biggie had been shot several times, Puffy and a friend rushed him to a hospital, where he died. Puffy said afterward, “I want to make sure that Biggie’s name goes down in history with some positivity.” He and Biggie’s ex-wife, whose name is Faith Evans, recorded “I’ll be Missing You,” a tribute to Biggie that reached number one on the charts. Puffy made $3 million from the song — money that he used to set up a trust fund for Biggie’s two children: Christopher and T’yanna. Biggie had recorded his albums with Puffy’s recording company, and Puffy used his own share of the profits from Biggie’s posthumously released Life After Deathto do such good deeds as fund community programs, including Daddy’s House, where Puffy says that city children can receive “positive experiences — computer camps, summer camps, boys’ and girls’ clubs, ethics classes. … I’ve gotten where I’ve gotten because I had a chance to dream, and I want to instill that in kids. All kids have a spark in them. Somebody just needs to ignite that spark. They can accomplish anything.”

• In 1930, Arturo Toscanini conducted Tannhaüserat the Bayreuth Festival, held in Bavaria. At intermission, several people waited to see Maestro Toscanini, including King Ferdinand of Bulgaria and Princess Margherita. However, the Maestro chose to see only a couple of old friends, ignoring the royalty. Afterward, he was asked if he had been aware that royalty had wished to see him. He replied, “Yes, yes, they told me. But what have I to do with kings and princesses? They have nothing to say to me. I have nothing to say to them.”

• Italian baritone Titta Ruffo and Italian tenor Enrico Caruso were friends. According to one story, while Mr. Ruffo was attending a performance by Mr. Caruso, he was asked his opinion of Mr. Caruso. Mr. Ruffo replied, “He’s magnificent — he scares me.” A few days later, while Mr. Caruso was attending a performance by Mr. Ruffo, he was asked his opinion of Mr. Ruffo. Mr. Caruso replied, “He’s magnificent — he scares me.”

• Geraldine Farrar and Enrico Caruso were great friends, and Ms. Farrar confided in him her fears about failure. Mr. Caruso encouraged her and predicted, “Farrar fara” — “Farrar will succeed.” She liked the motto so much that she used it on a seal for her letters.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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