Uploaded by marcusconnecting

Tribute to Robert Smith at 60

I met Rob twenty years ago with a group of writers in Bogotá. I was
immediately dazzled. Anyone who has ever seen Rob knows this: From the
first moment of encountering a stranger, he eases into a conversation about
history, or next year’s congressional elections, or the OPEC basket price of
crude oil…
As we became friends, he continued to wow me. He was brilliant but not
pedantic or professorial. He liked to make everyone else feel they were the
smart ones in the room. He had a refreshingly droll sense of humor, as dry
as a Catena Zapata malbec.
Rob fell in love with someone who matched his intelligence, his warmth, his
wit. Roba even had the same name (just add an “a”).
Rob invited me to their wedding. He is a modest man, so naturally he didn’t
mention the name of another guest, their friend Gabo. Yes, I sat behind one
of the greatest writers of the century, Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia
After we all left the land of fritanga, ajiaco and tinto, I caught tidbits about
the Rob-Roba global journey as they alighted in Sao Paulo, Miami, Tokyo,
Hong Kong… I heard about the birth of their two stunning daughters. I
realized that Gabo himself had a phrase for the Smith-La Rotta life: magical
Flash forward. I think the year was 2016. I learned that Rob/Roba were not
only in the New York suburbs; they were living across the Bronx River
Parkway from the house where I grew up. Like me, they were still making
the transition from journalism to—whatever.
Their Scarsdale home, of course, was the center of magically realistic
gatherings of friends from India, France, Japan… with Rob and Roba the
calm, effervescent hosts.