http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/18/boomi ... .html?_r=0
The New York Times
July 18, 2013
My Night With Leonard Cohen
By ROZ WARREN
It was 1975. My pal Anne and I were waiting in line outside a Chicago club where Leonard Cohen would perform that night, when Mr. Cohen himself came around the corner, smiled at the two of us, then continued inside.
“Did you see that?” I said. “He noticed us!”
“We must be his type,” Anne said. “Or one of them, anyway.”
I was a nice Jewish girl from suburban Detroit. Anne was a minister’s daughter from Ohio. We were both juniors at the University of Chicago. My guitar-playing boyfriends had been courting me with “Sisters of Mercy" and “Famous Blue Raincoat” since high school, and I was eager to check out the real deal. Anne was a sometimes folksinger who often performed Mr. Cohen’s songs herself, her lovely soprano accompanied with somewhat haphazard guitar playing.
The club was packed and the show was terrific. Pulling into traffic afterward, we realized that Mr. Cohen was riding in the car ahead of us. It was a big old station wagon, and Mr. Cohen and the drummer were in the back seat, facing us.
Giddy, we waved at them and mouthed the words, “Great show!”
At the next light, Mr. Cohen rolled down the window and called, “Follow us!”
“Are we really going to do this?” Anne asked as I steered through the dark city streets, zipping around corners and trying not to run stop signs.
“Why not?” I asked. Sure, it was past midnight and we were bone tired. But what an adventure!
And meeting Mr. Cohen would certainly be something cool to tell my folk-singing boyfriends about.
At a downtown diner, we all crowded into a large corner booth, and the drummer told us we had caught the singer’s eye because Anne was the spitting image of the chick who inspired “So Long, Marianne.”
We were so young and innocent that it didn’t even occur to us that he might be feeding us a line.
The rest of the band took off, leaving me and Anne with Mr. Cohen and the drummer. They griped about life on the road for a while, then Mr. Cohen drew us out, asking about our lives and the university.
The fact that teenage boys in suburban Detroit were using his music to try to seduce girls clearly amused him.
During one lull in the conversation, he turned to me, shook his head, and said, “You are so young."
I didn’t argue. He seemed ancient to me, although at 41, he was considerably younger than I am now.
Mr. Cohen ordered a root beer float with chocolate ice cream, which struck me as a ghastly combination. When he offered me a sip, I tried it, then made a face and pronounced it “appalling.”
The food was awful but Anne and I were having a wonderful time. After a great show, we were hanging out with the star! But we began to suspect there was a plan afoot to divvy us up, one for Mr. Cohen and one for the drummer, so we headed to the ladies room for a powwow.
We thought about saying, “So Long, Leonard Cohen” and leaving after the midnight nosh, but we were having too much fun. We wanted the adventure to continue, but we agreed we would stick together. If Mr. Cohen didn’t like that, too bad for him. We’d be out of there.
We weren’t groupies. We were feminists. We intended to take control of the situation. And neither of us was up for trading in our friendship for a little solo time with Mr. Cohen.
As we left the diner, I took Mr. Cohen aside and told him Anne and I were sticking together. Maybe the drummer was a great guy, but neither of us was interested in him.
Mr. Cohen seemed untroubled by this news.
Driving behind the station wagon again, we agreed that Mr. Cohen was a mensch. He had treated us respectfully. He had taken us seriously. We liked him. And he seemed to like us, too.
It turned out he was staying at the Playboy Towers, which we thought deeply ironic. While you could associate plenty of singers with the term “playboy," Leonard Cohen, surely, wasn’t among them.
We accompanied him to a drab hotel room that was dominated by a mammoth bed, covered with the ugliest bedspread I had ever seen. By now it was after two. He turned on the TV and we stood around for a few moments chatting about how ugly the bedspread was. Then we took turns using the bathroom, stripped down to our undies, and the three of us dove into that great big bed and … went right to sleep.
We were all exhausted. And Anne and I clearly weren’t groupie material. We snuggled up to him, one on either side, and everyone went to dreamland.
Anne says she woke up once, because he was snoring. She reached over, gently closed his mouth, and went back to sleep.
When I awoke the next morning, Mr. Cohen was singing in the shower.
I nudged Anne and we beamed at each other. How amazing was this?
Soon he was moving around the dark room, getting dressed and packing up. As he left, he said: “I have the room till noon. You can sleep in.”
After the door closed behind him, Anne and I immediately started joking around. “Who on earth was that?” “He looked pretty darn familiar.” “Say … that wasn‘t Leonard Cohen, was it?”
Then we got out of bed and searched the room for souvenirs.
We found an almost full bottle of Herbal Essence in the shower. Leonard Cohen’s shampoo! Ours now. Emptying the waste basket, we were rewarded with crumbled scraps of paper containing song lyrics. There were also mash notes from eager groupies trying to entice him into a romp, including one who claimed to give the best “backrub” north of Tallahassee.
I give Mr. Cohen credit. Given a choice between a night of groupie debauchery and a snuggle with two feminists, he’d gone with us.
Of course, the man was a Buddhist. He was probably just taking what the universe had to offer. Had we turned into a pair of depraved trollops the moment we had him in that room alone, he might have gone with that, too.
When Mr. Cohen’s next record came out, the cover photo was of him with two women. Coincidence? Sure, but we got a kick out of thinking it was a secret message for us. He had called the album “Death of a Ladies Man.” To us, he was a perfect gentleman.
Does Mr. Cohen still remember that night? Probably not. But that’s O.K. What matters is that Anne and I, still fast friends, have never forgotten it.
I tried to contact Mr. Cohen after writing this article. His manager, Robert B. Kory, was kind enough to write back to tell me it was a “great story” that he would “forward to Leonard,” but that “regrettably, we must decline the request for a comment, as Leonard is on tour.”