Yesterday I had the honor of attending the memorial service for Christopher Lehmann-Haupt. I knew him from his stint as an editor when he bought a book from me. Most people at the service knew him far longer and far better than I did; I confess to feeling envy that they had that kind of time with him.
He was a gentleman of the old school. He did not tout himself; if he told you stories of his life, it was up to you realize what you were hearing. I still remember putting down my butter knife at the Carlyle Hotel Cafe and saying "wait, you were in Germany and met who?" as he told me a story from his youth.
He did things sort of casually, and mentioned them like it was no big deal.
I made him do all the talking when we met; I hung on his every word.
As things so inevitably do, years passed, and we both got older.
He left the world last week, and we are the poorer for it.
His memorial service drew actors, musicians, writers, lawyers, doctors, and
even a shark; all a testament to his amazing capacity for friendship.
I'm glad I had the chance to know him; I wish we'd had more time.