My Husband’s Cousin Larry

Lawrence Schwartz was born to be an insurance salesman. Not that it was in his genes or his background. All right. It didn’t have to be insurance. It could have been cars. Or real estate. But salesman, he was. It was in the bubble of confidence he walked around in. It was in the facts and figures he plucked from the air at an instant’s notice. It was in his friendly smile and forthcoming handshake. And it didn’t hurt that he was a big, handsome barrel-chested ex-Marine. So when he called on Jerzy Kosinski at his brownstone on Park Avenue, the deal should have been easy. Lawrence, oh call him Larry, please—Larry was not awed by the fact that Kosinski was an international literary star. Larry kept up with the New York Times best sellers. He had read THE PAINTED BIRD, Kosinski’s unbearably painful account of a boy in Poland during WWII. Whether it was supposed to be autobiographical or not, Larry couldn’t tell—surely no child could have entered on such a journey and come out the other end alive; it had to be allegorical. Larry could converse on any topic; he congratulated the author on his success, but the conversation didn’t linger on the book. This was not a cold call. Larry had been invited by Kosinski to discuss the possibility of group insurance rates and particulars for his literary society. Kosinski was attempting a kindness for a group of persons who were not always prepared for the vicissitudes of life; artists do not always put material concerns first. In fact, material concerns are often not even on the radar of an artist. Larry would have been happy to provide a cushion for the old age of these writers, but it was not in his power to do so. Unfortunately, the insurance deal did not go through as Kosinski had hoped. Larry, however, came away with an autographed copy of Kosinski’s THE PAINTED BIRD.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Holly Owen
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 11:21:01

    Great story. You have a knack for painting lively characters, even when they’re real. Thanks for sharing it with us.


  2. Barbara Bockman
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 15:17:37

    I’ll tell Larry you think he’s lively. As a matter of fact, he is. And he’s a great guy.


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