I was invited to brunch the next day. I cannot pretend that I was free of ambitions, which was hardly the case, but I was so green and transparent and "uncool" as Pam would later say, that they were probably relieved except when, as I often did, blunder into an awkward moment. Otherwise, since she was so young that he had no fear that his daughter would marry beneath her, her father got to enjoy her company along with an escort who could talk about art. I did not, however, always agree with his views.
That I had stepped into his pristine world was for Pam an immensely amusing spectacle. After each small dinner party she would analyze the mutually exclusive incomprehension and its accompanied chagrin between her father and me. She took delight in my misadventures. It wasn’t that I was a hick, far from that, or I would never have fit in at all. It’s just that I wasn’t polished or dutifully obedient. I did not acquiesce. Actually, she egged me on. She didn’t have to; although I wasn’t trying to be disruptive or rude. The two Scorpios just could not see eye to eye.
With her mother, it was easier and more natural. In a way I felt the comfort of being a member of the family even if it was just a borrowed family, for life was pretty hard without a stipend from my own family. Remember this was the winter turning 1974. TriBeCa was just emerging, and the East Village art scene was half a decade away. It was very déclassé to be on the far side of Tompkins Square, but the advantage of being excluded was the freedom to develop on your own. The art world was hardened into the static hierarchy of its last few avant-garde clubs maintaining their superior positions. The kind of iconic figuration that I had done in Paris was disallowed, and I was rebuked as reactionary and made unwelcome.
I remember encountering Mel Bochner sitting with a friend at the Spring Street Bar. It was the first time that we met since the winter of 1963 when I used to give him rides to the print shop at Carnegie Tech. I didn't want to intrude except to say we should have a talk sometime. He responded: “You can say what you have to say, now," but he didn't invite me to sit down. The tone of his voice said it all. There was no point.
Mel knew he was performing tricks having as much weight as the adhesive holding his numerical tapes to gallery walls. So his charade depended upon his philosophical pretensions. In another life he might have debated commentaries from the Midrash.