Sarah MacColl, Cape Elizabeth
MP was 50, and I was 19. He hired me in Sarasota, Florida for $2 an hour to help him organize his architecture, construction, and interior design office. As the receptionist he didn't need, I held down the fort from 9 to 1, answering two or three phone calls weekly, greeting the mailman, and cheerfully chatting up all of one or two potential clients each month.
I understand better now that MP, AIA had lost his shirt in the early 70s, and what was left of his life was a wife and two twenty-something daughters, lots of construction debt, and a very messy office. But when I knocked on his door in October 1975, fresh off the road from a drive down to Florida from my home town of Bar Harbor and asked if I could have a job, he said yes.
Thanksgiving (with his family) and Christmas came and went, and I reported for work daily, naive and pleasant, I suppose. He got a contract to design a small house. His spirits rose. I rode my bike out for the ground breaking. We drank champagne and my ride home was tippy. He was a local thespian. I borrowed his camera and took pictures of his current play, A Little Night Music. There was no romance in our relationship, no inappropriate banter. Balding and soft, but with a smile and grace that still tears me up, he just journeyed on. Little did I know he was smitten. I returned to Colby in the fall of 1976, and sent him a wreath and a card for Christmas, and in late May at home in Bar Harbor I answered the phone one afternoon and it was, you guessed it, MP. He was in Trenton, at the Bar Harbor airport.
I'm sorry that I was a less than gracious host. He stayed at the Cadillac Motel at the bottom of my street, played golf alone at Kebo, and made pleasant conversation with my parents and me. Then he went home. Months later he sent a card explaining how the smell of the evergreens that Christmas had made his heart sing, and he knew he had to visit me. That's all.
Whenever I hear "Send in the Clowns," I remember this man, a kind, generous, simple guy who never asked anything of me, helped me pay my rent in Sarasota, and apparently flew to Maine on a wing and a prayer. If you know the plot of A Little Night Music, you know it involves the vagaries of love and life. I imagine MP felt like a clown himself when he stepped through my door at 16 Livingston Road, looking for love... in the wrong place.
I've searched for my old employer, most recently in the Sarasota Herald Tribune archives. I called the last number listed in the online White Pages. I called the Florida branch of The American Institute of Architecture and left a message, wondering if they could help me locate MP, AIA. No luck anywhere.
I just wanted to say, "I remember you fondly."