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I tracked down an old friend from the Bronx, who used to live a few blocks from me. He now works for the city in the Office of Management and Budgets.

Transcript of our phone conversation:

David: Hey, how's it goin'?

Hector: Pretty good. (pause) So you want to interview me?

David: It's not really an interview, just a conversation. You know, if you've got any stories about the Bronx...

Hector: (long pause) I don't know... I could tell you about that time that we almost got arrested for selling stolen goods...

David: Really?

Hector: Yeah. I think it was in... no, no, uh, I don't want to tell you that one.

David: Why not?

Hector: Nah. Let me tell you about something better...

David: Sure...

Hector: Remember that kid... that what was his name... Bert or Bart... yeah Bart...

David: Not really...

Hector: Oh, this is a good one.. he had all these weird ideas and schemes. So one day in about the fifth grade, he tells me that he's got this thing he sent away for that he can see through girl's clothes...

David: Yeah, sure.

Hector: By the way, are you going to put this all in the book?

David: If it's interesting, I guess.

Hector: I know this might sound a little uptight of me but could I sort of get approval before you put anything in?

David: Approval? What do you mean?

Hector: I just want to uh see the stuff first, that's all...

David: Yeah, I don't care.

Hector: Because... you know... some of these stories...

David: Yeah, yeah. C'mon, I'm gonna run out of tape.

Hector: You promise to let me see it first?

David: Yes. I promise.

Hector: I'm not kiddin'. Do you swear?

David: Yes, I swear, I swear... you can have complete --

Hector: You're not gonna put this in are you?

David: This? Put what in?

Hector: This part -- this part where I'm trying to get approval?

David: Why would I put this in?

Hector: Because I don't want this part in either.

David: You don't want what in?

Hector: I told you -- this part.

David: O.K. I won't put this part in.

Hector: You will, won't you?

David: C'mon, already.

Hector: You see the thing is -- all the stories I have -- I mean they don't uh make me look bad, but I wouldn't want anyone to know that....

David: You know what... let's forget the whole thing.

Hector: Yeah. I think that would be better. It's just that I've got this cushy job -- and I wouldn't want to do anything that would...

David: Yeah, yeah. No problem. I thought you might have some stories, that's all.

Hector: So you swear you won't put this in?

David: (laughing) I swear -- I promise -- I won't do it.

Hector: 'Cause I know you. You're gonna put it in. 'Cause it's like something out of Seinfeld or something. You know?

David: Yeah. This is like something out of Seinfeld... only not as funny.

Hector: (laughing) I know you, you bastard. Now that's going to be in also.

David: (laughing) Yeah, I think it will .

Hector: Jeez. If I see this in the book, I'm gonna kill you.

David: I'll change your name.

Hector: Change my name? That's a good idea. Change my name, even for this stupid interview... will you do that?

David: Yeah. What do you want your name for this stupid interview to be?

Hector: How about Martha?

David: Martha's out. It's got to be a guy's name.

Hector: Why?

David: There's just so far I can go into fantasy land with you. If I name you Martha, no one's gonna believe this is real.

Hector: O.K. O.K. I got it. How 'bout Hector.

David: Hector? That's really good. Who the heck is Hector?

Hector: You know, Hector -- from the Trojan thing -- what was it called --

David: I don't know, Hector.

Hector: The Illiad.

David: O.K. Hector from Burnside Avenue -- anything you want to tell me about your life of crime and sexual depravity?

Hector: Are you going to publish it?

David: That's it. This interview is finished.

Hector: And don't say I lived on Burnside Avenue. Change the street. Say I lived on... uh...

David: It's done, man. We're finished.

Hector: No it's okay... I'll do it...

David: You just don't want anything you say to end up in the book.

Hector: Yeah.

David: I gotta go.

David: Well, OK. Hector. Thanks for a wonderful interview about growing up in the Bronx. Maybe you should have told me about what it was like during the siege of Troy.

Hector: (Laughs) Yeah, I think Hector was in that one -- the Trojan Horse and all that crap. I didn't mean to say crap. Take that out.

David: Yeah, sure.

Hector: That's it. I'm not saying anything else.

David: Nothing?

Hector: No, nothing.

David: Well, nice chatting with you. We've got to do this more often.

Hector: Yeah... bye.





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