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So I was having lunch in Soho, with De Niro and Pacino, at some half-hidden Italian place with a special penne dish De Niro insists we will love. I've seen his movies; I'm not arguing with the man, besides he's looking pretty good these days, with the greying hair and the marvelous laugh lines. And Al, God bless him, is happy as a clam or a lark or as happy as Pacino can be. He is also looking grey, lined from life, and quite attractive. I remind myself I'm a married woman. As we wait for our server, the two of them are engaging in banter, as men do, in the presence of a female. It's biology. De Niro starts out by saying loudly, "well... I am over-fuckin'-whelmed," then winks at me. Pacino objects, "that was one of my lines, you fuck!" They are not known for censoring their language, which is fine by me. Ever the peacemaker, I divert the tension by telling him I saw him perform off-off-Broadway many years ago. Pacino pauses, and asks what I remember about the performance.

"Are you the kind of person who wants my honest opinion?" I ask, gazing into his incredibly deadly brown/green eyes. (I've learned to ask this FIRST the hard way; some people want to hear what they want to hear, and if you give them your opinion or advice, they get mad at you.) He goes ballistic, "Who? Who? What are you some kinda fuckin' owl?"

I touch his old hand briefly to calm him, and he calms down. Thankfully, the server arrives with a nice red wine, compliments of Jesus, who is sitting alone in a corner. De Niro orders the penne for the three of us and asks if we should invite Jesus to join us. I'm surprised at both gestures, but figure I'll just roll with it. Pacino nods yes. Not to be outdone by him just because he's a great actor and has a sexy voice, I nod also.

I mean, come on, it's a once in a lifetime experience unless you believe in The Second Coming and Judgment Day, which I'm not knocking; I just can't wrap my mind around things on that grand a scale. In a restaurant with dim lighting and the obligatory red and white checked tablecloths and candles, protected by two guys who have killed scores of imaginary people, I oddly feel safe about Jesus joining us. De Niro actually gets up and goes over to Jesus to invite him to join us. (So he's dressed a little differently and he has a halo-like light above his head.) Pacino jumps up and shakes his hand.

Just then, Einstein walks into the restaurant; Jesus waves him over, saying to us, "I've been wanting to talk with Albert about a book he wrote about me." I'm thinking to myself, Jesus has Einstein confused with Albert Schweitzer who wrote The Quest of the Historical Jesus, but I'm not going to bring up his mistake. Don't want to get withered like the fig tree, even though I'm kinda withered and can't bear any fruit anymore anyway, metaphorically speaking.

De Niro orders more penne. Einstein starts rambling about how misunderstood he was but how much he loved teaching. Jesus interrupts him, "Albert, what's wrong with you?" Pacino softly finishes the line, his line from an old violent movie, "You drag me here, waste my time like this." The server arrives with the penne and De Niro was right; we all love it. Shakespeare and Basho never show up but that's okay; the table is so crowded we are all touching, elbow to elbow, besides they're just dead poets. What they had to say can be read in books, although I would have enjoyed their company and the sound of their voices.

The above fictional account does contain the names of the living and the dead and is based on one true event. I actually did see Pacino in an off-off-Broadway play. Well, also I read the book by Albert Schweitzer in order to play devil's advocate in a college religion class debate, but both events were long ago and far away.

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