Peter Boyle, well known as the Ray Barrone's father, Frank, on "Everybody Loves Raymond", died today at the age of 71.
So why is this on MY blog? Since when did I become the new Perez Hilton?
I haven't. I leave the snark to the reigning Queen himself.
However, I felt the need to mention it here for a reason.
A long, long time ago, in a land far away, CP lived in New York City. Okay, it wasn't that long ago. Long enough though. (When you live in Florida, everyday feels like forever). I was in a very cute little deli, tucked away near Zabar's on the upper west side of Manhattan. I saw Peter Boyle there, having lunch with another gentleman. I had already known who he was from his role in Taxi Driver and of course, Young Frankenstein. (If you haven't seen it, please do, or I will not be your friend any longer. Thx.)
Anyway, I asked him for his autograph, which I seldom ever do, because I am not into the whole hero worship of celebrities thing. They take a shit the same way we do, still put on their pants one leg at a time, right? Why fawn over someone who gets paid so much to carry on the way I do every single day? Back to the story. He was about to give me his autograph, when the man he was with shooed me away like I was some sort of peon who was pestering them. I recall Mr. Boyle looking at me with eyes that practically said, "I'm so sorry", but he didn't say anything.
I was so pissed. I was a teenager, not more than perhaps 15 years old. I was used to seeing celebrities on the streets of New York all the time. Sometimes I would point, gape and stare...maybe even gawk or drool depending on the person, but I never approached anyone for an autograph. To me, Mr. Boyle was a cult hero! I was only eight years old when Young Frankenstein came out, too young to be allowed to see it. By the time I was 12, I finally got to watch the movie and I knew every single line.
I balled up the napkin in my fist, threw it down on the ground and walked out like the very spoiled child/brat that I was. I was so mad. I can remember that feeling to this day.
I went next door to Zabar's. I was buying some peaches. (Loved me some NYC produce...tasted as filthy as the air we breathed). I was tapped on the shoulder. I turn around, and there stood Peter Boyle. He not only paid for my peaches (I gave him one too!) but he gave me the coolest thing ever. It was an autographed photo of himself.
"Where'd you get that from," I asked him.
"My agent, the nice guy you just met. He had one for the wall in the deli."
"Oh," I replied in typical loquacious teenage fashion. "It doesn't have my name on it. It says, 'To Sal'. My name is CP."
"Yeah, but you look like a Sal," he said with a laugh. "You know, like a Sally."
"No I don't," I said, giggling slightly.
"No. You sure don't. But, if you write down your address, I can send you a new one with your name on it."
"Really? Cool. What should I do with Sal's?"
"Ah, keep it. I don't really like the food there anyway."
I wrote down my address on a piece of paper and handed it to him.
"Thank you, Sir," I said. I admit, I was a little in awe.
He laughed, gave me a little hug and then, strolled down the street in the opposite direction I was going. He met up with the big, snarly man he was with. He looked back at me, gave me a little wave with the peach still in his hand and then, turned the corner.
I tucked the picture away with my junk when I got home.
A month later, I get a manila envelope. There is no return address. I tear into it. And there, before my eyes, was an autographed picture of Peter Boyle that said the following:
"To Sally. I mean, CP. You're a Peach. With Love, Peter Boyle."
It remains, to this day, neatly tucked away in a big box full of a teenage girls memorabilia and junk that resides in my parents basement. I think, when I arrive in New York this weekend, I will dig it out. I think it should be framed and sit proudly on my entertainment center, next to my television in the family room.
I owe the man who paid for my peaches and restored my faith in human kindness that much.