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A personal tribute to his 75th

Barbara Moser

October, 2009

I have always been in love with him. Since I was a student at the University of Manitoba in that chilly landscape that included my dormitory cot, I have been warmed by dreams of meeting him, of having him sing to me, of going on a date with him. Of course at the time I would have had nothing interesting or intelligent to say to him. I would have just gawked, maybe swooned. Since the first time I heard Suzanne, I wanted to be Suzanne – until I saw the documentary on the real Suzanne and realized she wasn’t even his lover. Then I wanted to be Marianne, but that was a problem because of the “So Long” part. I ­didn’t want to be a Sister of Mercy, but I often wondered what he saw in nuns, this nice Jewish guy.

He is actually 15 years older than I am, but when I was 18 he just didn’t seem 33. I imagined that if he ever were to meet me back then, he would have been seduced by my extraordinary beauty and wit. Yet his city, Montreal, seemed totally inaccessible to this Edmonton girl. During the time I lived in Israel, from 1971 to 1975, I imagined him on a concert tour meeting a Canadian girl, me of course, and admiring my adventuresome and romantic spirit.

I have seen Leonard Cohen live in concert only once, in Montreal with my daughter at the Forum. We got great seats and we both sat transfixed throughout the concert. The experience seemed to mean as much to Amy, 15, as it did to me.

My dream of dating Leonard never came true, but I did run into him twice. The first time, I was standing in line at a bank on St. Laurent and I turned around and realized he was behind me. I just didn’t have the courage to say anything. I didn’t want to look foolish. I was so angry with myself afterward. Why was I such a wimp? I regretted that “non-meeting” for years. Then, when my daughter Molly was 14 (she is now 28) the magical meeting occurred. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. This was one of those times.

Molly and I walked into a grubby little pizza joint on St. Laurent. Leonard was standing at the counter, waiting for a young friend. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. I walked right up to him while Molly was getting a drink. She hadn’t noticed him. I introduced myself. I was shaking. “I just want to tell you that I’ve always loved… your music,” I stammered. “I used to lay on my dorm cot at university and think of you.”

No, I thought, this sounds ridiculous. But Leonard was gracious and sooooooo charming. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said, or something like that, shaking my hand. “I’d like to introduce my daughter to you,” I said. “Oh”, he said, eying her girlish stature, “she’ll never know who I am.”

“I think she will,” I said. I called Molly over. “Do you know who this is?” I asked her. “Leonard Cohen,” she replied immediately. He told Molly she was too young to know who he was. “Of course I know who you are,” she said, smiling. They shook hands. Then we left the place. I don’t remember if we bought any pizza or not. Our car was parked just in front.

We both walked out to the car. We looked at each other and put out our hands and said in unison: “I’m never going to wash this hand again.” I am 32 years older than Molly yet we had exactly the same reaction. How amazing is that?

Thanks, Leonard, for giving us that thrill. Thanks for your incrediblemusic, which I’ve memorized over the years. Start me off and I’ll finish the song.

Although we have washed our hands many times since that day, we have never forgotten that magical moment when mother and daughter bonded in our love of Leonard Cohen.



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