Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NY night

I once went to a black tie affair at the Plaza Hotel in New York. It was a formal gala, honoring Philip Johnson, the renowned architect. It was in the Grand Ballroom. The same room where Truman Capote's Black and White Ball was. It was really something to attend such a grand affair. Brooke Astor was sitting at the table with Philip Johnson. It was really magical.

I wore a long grey, wool silk, slip dress, with a matching evening coat. I had on black pointy toed stilettos. I carried a small, jeweled, evening purse. I must have been about 26. My hair was up, and my eyes were smoky. I felt wonderful.

The night was filled with dancing, and champagne. Lots of champagne. The dinner was delicious, and the candlelight made everything glow and sparkle. The gold walls reflected the light. It was an honor to be a part of it. I felt like an impostor.

But I had one too many glasses of champagne. And then I believe we wound up in the Oak Room at the Plaza. After a blurry cab ride home, I remember spilling the contents of my little jeweled evening purse onto the seat of the taxi to pay the driver. I thought I had collected everything, but apparently, my apartment keys drove off into the night. Did I mention it was winter, and freezing out?

I became a bit panicked. I was unsure what I was going to do. I walked down the block toward my building. It must have been about 2 a.m. I buzzed the apartment of the man next door to me. He was in his twenties as well. He and I had only exchanged brief hello's, but I knew my window was open, and we shared a fire escape. This was the only way I would be able to get in without paying a locksmith.

He took a while to answer, and his voice was both sleepy, and angry when he finally picked up the intercom. I, was of course, over served, so I must have sounded goofy, to say the least. I explained that it was me, his neighbor. I asked him to buzz me in, and could he please open his apartment door. The buzzer sounded, and I pushed the leaded glass door open, and clicked my way down the hall, to the back stairwell, and hiked it up the flight of stairs. He slowly opened his apartment door, unsure of why I needed him to do so. Do you know, I smiled, said hello, and told him that I was going to need to go out his window, onto the fire escape. As I was telling him my plan, I walked right into his apartment. Totally breezed right by him. I didn't even know his first name. This was the most we had ever spoken to each other. He looked shocked. He looked a bit annoyed. He even protested, but I insisted everything was fine, and I walked right into his living room, threw the window open, and in a long gown, and matching coat, climbed out of his window, carefully balancing myself on the grates of the fire escape, hoping it would hold, as it was over 100 years old, and told him, thank you and goodnight. I opened up my kitchen window, which was always opened a crack, as the steam heat in the building made my tiny home hotter than hell, and I fell onto my kitchen floor.

I saw that man just a handful of times after that. Sometimes, I would be about to leave for work in the morning, and I would hear his door open, and I would wait to leave, watching him go down the stairs through my peep hole. I kind of felt silly. Like he thought I was wacky, or something. Maybe I was. I mean, I must have been.

But do you know, whenever I think of that night, I still crack up to myself. And I know, somewhere out there, that man must have a memory of me, crawling out of his living room window, in a gown, and stilettos, into the winter night.


  1. These posts about NYC resonate with me so much - especially lately. I keep dreaming that I am back up there and so thrilled about being back in that life. I probably couldn't keep it up for more than a weekend at this age, but still . . . xoxo T