“What’s Past is Prologue”
Let me begin with a brief definition: “What’s Past is Prolouge” is a quote by William Shakespeare from his play The Tempest. Prologue means an introduction or preface, so what the phrase means is that history set the scene for what was to come later. Assuming we are living in the present, things that took place in the past put into place the elements of what is happening now.
This past October, it will be 12 years when I first met Michael. The year was 1998. In my mind I remember vividly the day, just like it was yesterday.
It was a crisp and sunny fall afternoon in the city of Vancouver, the colors of autumn had already painted the deep reds, yellows, ochre and browns on the leaves in the trees, and there was just a hint of winter in the air. I was returning home from an acting class. My acting coach had given me a ride home in his car, stopping in front of Rosie’s on Hamilton Street, I thanked him and said goodbye. As I was waiting for a break in the traffic to cross the street, I turned and looked up the block and saw a man slowly walking towards me down the sidewalk. I can still remember to this very day every minute detail, almost as if it was just moments ago.
I saw a tall gangly individual with a very distinct walk with his eyes fixed on the newspaper he was reading. He was dressed in very casual way, wearing a pair of jeans, plaid shirt, and green windbreaker. Also a part of his dress, are his reading glasses, which are forever hanging down close to the end of his nose. I’ve rarely seen him without an armful of newspapers, scripts or other reading material, which he was also carrying, and of course his trademark ball cap, which, I might add, he is always misplacing along with his glasses.
At this point I must stop and share some background perspective which will tie in to this first encounter with Michael
A month earlier, I had finished work on a small independent film in which I played one of the lead roles. The key make-up girl on the film, whose name I’ve long forgotten, happened to be working in a small coffee shop across from my apartment. On occasion as I would walk by this coffee shop she would spot me and say hello, and chat a little.
During one of these conversations, she told me she would often see a famous actor come into the shop for coffee and read the paper; she could not recall his name but recognized his face. She went on to say that I should drop in more often and try to meet him. Not my style, could never do something like that, walk up to a complete stranger, introduce myself, and then begin a conversation. Oddly enough, weeks later this turned out to be exactly what I did.
So now that seed thought had been planted in my brain, who was this famous actor? I began to be more aware of those people I saw around my neighborhood, in particular, trying to spot this unnamed but recognizable actor. Weeks went by…nothing.
Back to the encounter…
I was literally frozen in my tracks, I could not move. It was decision time…do I or don’t I but I still was not certain who he was. I often wonder what if I’d just crossed the street…what if. Of course, I know now that my life today as I know it would be completely different and of course would not be writing this memoir
As he walked closer our eyes casually met, and still frozen in my tracks, he walked by. I remember saying to myself, “I recognize that guy.” Then, then it dawned on me, I now was certain. It was Michael Moriarty, ADA Ben Stone on Law and Order.
As he walked by I turned to see him enter a grocery store, so I did the same and followed him in at a distance of course. When I entered the store, he was waiting at the counter to make a purchase. There were a few people ahead of him, so I pretended to be looking around on the shelves for something to buy, but I was watching and listening like a hawk. Finally I heard him speak, it was then I immediately knew for certain who he was. It was one simple word, ‘sir’. After asking for a package of cigarettes, he said, “Sir, how much do I owe you?” The ‘Sir’ was a trademark word always uttered by ADA Ben Stone; it’s unmistakable when you hear it. As he left, I to quickly bought a package of cigarettes and followed him outside. By this time, he was a little ways ahead of me, so I quickened my pace and caught up to him. I said, “excuse me…excuse me.” He stopped, slowly turned around and with a look of puzzlement said, “ah…yes?” I replied, “Are you Michael Moriarty?” “Ah…yes”. So tongue tied and feeling very awkward I stumbled for something to say. I told him just how much I loved his work as an actor, that I was an actor as well, and could I perhaps buy him a cup of coffee sometime. His response was, “well…ah…yeah, I like conversation…make it a glass of wine, and I can talk all day…I’m a little busy right now though.” “I understand”, I said, he then turned around and walked away, as did I. It wasn’t until I got into the elevator of my building, that I realized, we hadn’t exchanged phone numbers, not that he would have given me his, but I surely would have given him mine. It would be a month before I would see and talk to him again.