Dinner with Snoopy and Abel


The New Yorker (Nov. 29, ’04) tribute to the late Charles Schulz, the creator of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, reminded me of the long-ago time when I sort of “had dinner” with this genius.

Actually, my dinner that night was with another legend, Variety editor Abel Green. During one of his annual visits to Rome, Abel – as the keepers of Abel-lore will recall with a chuckle – expected, and got, a red carpet welcome from the top eateries in town, and I had arranged a vip visit that night to the Hostaria dall’Orso, a see-and-be-seen candle-lit culinary must in an old Roman Palazzo by the Tiber.

After we were seated, and had checked out the menu, Abel, as he liked to do, cased the room and to his delight spied a familiar face, namely Snoopy’s father. A table-hopping vet, Abel excused himself and sidled over to Schulz’s table, where the artist greeted him warmly. After an exchange of pleasantries and, presumably, an informational update, they parted and be returned to his own house special. “Nice guy”, Abel quipped. “Says hi”.

I, in turn, waved “hi” across the room, but he gestured “come on over.”

I don’t remember what we said. Probably just small talk. But it didn’t matter: I’d just “sort of” had dinner with a genius.