One day, many years ago, I complained to my director, Del Close, about something that happened on stage the night before. I was pissed off at myself, I told Del, because now, in hindsight, it dawned on me how I could have played it to get a good laugh instead of landing with a thud. Del grumbled, “Yeah, right, l’esprit de l’escalier.” “What?” I said. “The spirit of the staircase,” he said.

Del explained: “Dig. There’s this French cat, not very hip, and he’s somehow gotten a date with this gorgeous, brilliant chick. And they spend a couple hours together, and then it’s like… over. Later, he’s miserable, he’s walking up five flights of stairs to his lonely, messy, cold water flat. And, ON THE STAIRCASE, he has this moment! He realizes what he could have said, what he should have done that would have made her fall deeply in love with him, and then, of course, they would have spent a perfect life together forever. There’s a French expression for what that guy’s going through just then on the staircase. It’s l’esprit de l’escalier. The spirit of the staircase.”

What a concept, what an image. Note to self – DO NOT BE THAT GUY! The spirit of the staircase – another lesson I got from Del that I never forgot.