Thursday, February 23, 2006

"Golightly" to the Pierre

I couldn’t do anything that afternoon except wait for his call. When we spoke again he insisted that we meet in the Rotunda at the “Pierre Hotel.” He was all set on having a proper cocktail with “the publisher’s granddaughter.” Insecurity set in. What if I wasn’t enough? Or, worse yet, what if I was just enough of what had driven him from Alabama? I saw our cocktail hour transformed into an op-ed piece, “Uneducated Masses Flock to City—Erudite Democrats Sought to Eradicate Redneck Émigrés.” Enough. I threw on my blue pantsuit (the color conservative, the cut liberal—I gave nonpartisanship a go), hopped in a taxi and told the driver, the "Pierre.”

Without the usual scowl, the taxi driver careened onto Houston Street and into the warm twilight air. All of a sudden, I felt like a vaguely competent Holly Golightly going to meet the right man at the right bar with just the right amount of red lipstick on. Maybe, I thought, Christopher would see me arrive at the hotel very composed, as stylish as Hepburn, gliding past the bell captain, and into the bar. I caught a glimpse of myself in the cabby’s rear view mirror: the face staring back was expectant and very, very young. A short strand of pearls laced itself around my neck and dipped into my clavicle. I fingered the little white seeds and thought of how nice jewelry always gave me confidence.

Sixth Avenue, that tunnel of fluorescent light and Midtown melancholy, led my taxi toward the darkness of Central Park. It was early evening, when day crosses into night and vibrant hues turn a deep shade of amethyst, dime-store emerald green; the leaves have just lost their luster and hang listless from their fat, tired branches. The cab dropped me at 5th Avenue and 61st Street—the Pierre to my left, the park and it’s vanishing beauty to my right. I stepped out of the car and into the expensive, sweet air of the hotel lobby. My lips parted slightly. I moved cautiously over the marble floor, stepping carefully from square to square like a child trying to avoid cracks in the sidewalk. I had to stop and lean one shoulder against the cool wall. Walking into the hotel for the first time was like seeing a truly beautiful man: you feel that if you look away from the strong chin, the arresting eyes, you’ll forget exactly how it’s all positioned, how every surface glows...

(a little fact and fiction w. a dash of whimsy... shall I finish the scene?)

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