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The Nightgown - Page 6

"Money means nothing to me,' she said. 'It's crap.' The implication was that there are more important things in life—family, for example, although ours wasn't so terrific. But I ask you—is that why I can hardly wait to dispose of money on those rare occasions when I have some? So I can wash my hands, metaphorically, of course, and get rid of the crap?"

The actor seemed doubtful. He did a half-shrug this time, and then reversed himself by looking thoughtfully off in the distance, not stroking his chin, but holding it. Then he nodded, almost imperceptibly, as if to say, "You may be on to something."

"Great," said Solomon. "That's exactly how I feel. . . . I'm so relieved to finally clear up my confusion about money." He shook his head in wonder. "After three psychiatrists and all these long years, you just come along and—bam—you nail it."

The actor flashed an authentically charming smile. Solomon noticed for the first time how handsome he was. Why wasn't he a star? Possibly he was a late bloomer. Solomon had a friend at the Morris Agency in Los Angeles. But this was not the time to get involved in the man's career.

"Then there's the death thing," Solomon continued, "something else we never covered. I've never been able to quite get my arms around mortality. You live and you die and that's it. Or—fat chance—there's something beyond, an afterlife."

The actor expelled a little air from his nose, producing a snuffling sound. Solomon felt he could read the man's mind. "The great thinkers of history have been grappling with that question for centuries. Don't beat yourself up. You're not alone." Or so the actor seemed to indicate.

"You're right on that," said Solomon, although, in truth, the actor hadn't actually said anything. "There's religion, of course, and God bless the folks who take comfort from it. I actually keep a copy of Ten Great Religions on my night table . . . but with each one of them, there's always that leap you have to make, or you'll never get off the dime. And I can't take that leap. To make it worse, I don't even have a comforting philosophy. At my age, I'm 62, you'd think I'd have one. Maggy, that's my wife, says 'Don't worry, Nat. You'll get one when you need it.' I just love her for that." Solomon almost added: "Don't you?"

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