What Really Didn’t Happen

I have a Leonard Cohen story of my own. Today on his 75th birthday I am breaking my silence to elaborate on what really didn’t happen between Leonard and me.

It was the summer of 1973, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. What was a sleepy little village was changing fast. The Shaw Festival was under construction, Canada’s only mime theatre had its home there, and a production of New York City actors and their entourage had arrived in town to rehearse a musical based on the lives and loves of Leonard’s women, called The Sisters of Mercy.

I was staying in a little old hotel, the historic Prince of Wales, with my boyfriend. He was playing downstairs in a band that kept the locals, the casts and crews from the various shows, hopping into the wee hours. Niagara-on-the-Lake was abuzz and on fire. Hot! Hot! Hot!

As the story goes, Leonard got wind of this little enterprise that was using NOTL as a stepping stone before taking their show back to New York, albeit off-off-Broadway.

I first noticed him sitting on the outdoor patio of The Buttery Restaurant, right there on Queen Street, the main drag in town. It’s funny how the way he extends his leg, and then crosses it, still has that distinctive elegance. I had many reasons to go up and down that street, and saw on more than one occasion Leonard sitting on the patio being served by a girl I’d known in high school. Elyse was the understated classic beauty, so shy and modest (and oh my, so innocent). I could tell by the way she was ducking her head as she cleared his table with her tray, and smiling, and blushing to the roots of her fair hair, that Leonard was trying his best to seduce her.

It was a small town and it was inevitable that at one point Leonard and I would come face to face. This is that story.

Perhaps it was high noon. The sun was hot. The street deserted. Or perhaps people were behind curtains, looking out. I began my walk down Queen Street. And then up ahead, I saw him. Alone, walking neither fast nor slow, he was approaching. I continued walking. He continued walking. I determined that I would not look away. This was Leonard Cohen. We came closer. I could see the whites of his eyes, the intensity in his face. I was just about to see the thought processes in his brain. Leonard Cohen’s brain.

I’d say we were about ten feet apart, maybe less, and the distance between us was destined to diminish, and that’s when it happened. Leonard Cohen undressed me with his eyes…and kept walking. And then, it was over.

I’m quite sure he didn’t succeed with my teenage friend. I’m quite sure I immediately went for pecan pie at the cafe (while mentally readjusting my clothes). You can decide what this story is about. A lot didn’t happen. You may remember it as a story about Ontario summer weather, or wonder how good was the pie? Or you may ruminate as I do about all the things in our lives that really didn’t happen.

Good Life

…always for you Leonard.

2 Responses to “What Really Didn’t Happen”

  1. […] Cohen’s part when he visited during the summer 1973 rehearsals for Sisters Of Mercy, see What Really Didn’t Happen at DianeOutLoud […]

  2. Wendy says:

    Diane, I’m so glad I found this….it happened. I felt it. You know you felt it and kept walking. Such a close encounter.

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