I received an early afternoon phone call from an excited Bret Mollison in the spring of 2000. He had met some international tourists in Tribeca and suggested I join him. I knew if I didn’t oblige, he would use his persuasive ways to convince me - so I immediately said yes.
Bret was a master at engaging strangers and opening up potential friendship doors.
When I walked into the restaurant, Bret was smiling from ear to ear and began introducing me to his new friends from Switzerland and France; both men and women. He was in his element, being only a few years removed from his 7 sizzling years living abroad in Madrid, Spain. They were a fun group and we mingled over cocktails for a couple of hours.
As I was preparing to leave to meet other friends, one of the women from Switzerland mentioned an event in Brooklyn later than evening. Bret knew about the gathering, although I wasn’t sure I had time or even wanted to go. What Bret told me next surprised me.
He said, "She really wants you to come", referring to the Swiss woman. I was hesitant, as Bret didn’t make a compelling case with his words. The lady and I had chatted briefly that afternoon.
Bret was not giving up. When he wanted to get a point across, he could be relentless. “She likes you George, how many more ways do I need to say it.” He was able to see what I couldn’t and literally gave me a gentle push and said, “Just go talk to her” which I calmly did.
As soon as we began conversing again, I saw the gleam in her eyes and knew that I would be joining Bret and his friends in Brooklyn that night.
Walking into the gathering was one of those times where description fails to give any sort of clarity. It’s what made living in New York City (NYC) so breath-taking at times.
The lighting was superb and there were a smorgasbord of nationalities scattered all over one big stylish room – some standing and others lounging on the floor or chairs. People were relaxing in a way that was both soothing to the eye and comfortable to our welcome. The hosts warmly acknowledged us but didn’t do any formal introductions, as it was clearly a night to flow at your own pace.
I just stood there for a few moments and soaked it all in.
The music took the scene to another level with George Michael’s ‘Songs From the Last Century’ playing when we entered; specifically the beautiful ‘I Remember You’. I’d never heard this album of classic songs, despite being a huge fan of his. The atmosphere, music volume and mood couldn’t have been more pleasing.
I was also glad that a friend from Pennsylvania was in town, and came with us, as he got his first taste of the NYC I had previously described to him. If I, a seven year veteran at the time, was moved by the moment, I knew he was blown away by the magic of what he saw and would soon be experiencing.
I spent the majority of my time with my new found Swiss friend. I couldn’t help but wonder why I didn’t see it or feel the chemistry when we were talking earlier in the day. The chaos of the Big Apple can often cloud the mind or judgement with new people and endless possibilities for fun – which may have been why I missed the signs that Bret thankfully didn’t.
Without Bret’s invitation, I would have missed this wonderful night with so many dynamic and interesting people; some of whom are still in touch all these years later. I am grateful for Bret’s friendship and care that night and told him so on numerous occasions.
Four of his strengths were on display that evening:
- Thinking of Others - Inviting me to come meet him at the restaurant.
- Boldness - Opening up dialogue with people (tourists in this case) he didn’t know.
- Being Relentless - Making sure I joined him at the gathering.
- Having fun - Few did it better!
RIP my friend.
|Sheldon (left), Bret (Middle) and George in Brooklyn - early 90's|