I was walking down Park Avenue with my hands in my pockets when suddenly, wham, I smacked into a wall of people.
“Ooh, I’m sorry,” a girl and I said at the same time. I turned to your father beside me, confused, “what is this?” Asking, literally, what was this thing before me.
In front of our destination, a happy hour bar on the corner of 39th Street where we were meeting friends from his industry, there was a long group of people by the door where a large man in a black jacket stood barricading it, waving his arms and saying it was too crowded to get it.–“I’m sorry, we’re at capacity.”–
“Is this…is this a line??” I gasped.
“No way, I’m not waiting on this,” your dad huffed in equal horror.
And that’s how your parents found themselves on-line waiting to get into a bar on a Thursday night.
Peeking through the large windows, we could see it was particularly crowded inside. The large man was not lying. The room was really at capacity. People were everywhere. Young guys in suits, Bateman from “American Psycho” look-alikes, holding their golden draft beers up so as not to spill on the heads of the young girls around them juggling designer purses and coats and white wine in too few hands.
Your dad and I looked at each other, rolling our eyes. We were two old people.
“Even when we do get inside, there’s going to be no place to sit or even stand. I’m going to have to hold my bag–”
“We’re never going to be able to get to the bar and get a drink–”
Aside from being a curmudgeon, I had another variable to consider:
I’d just stepped out of the dermatologist and had minor surgery on my stomach. I had more moles removed. I am Irish, babies. The sun is not my friend. While now I do not leave the house without less than SPF 30 on (newsflash: which means you do the same), that wasn’t the case back in 1998 on Spring Break Cancun. I pay for it now every six months when I go for these skin checks and they find these “precancerous” moles. (And here I thought they were freckles, once cute, now, not so much.)
Standing on-line, I adjusted my pants so that the waist covered the golf-ball size of gauze taped to the right of my belly button for pressure.
Your father saw me doing this. “Are you okay? Are you in pain?”
I was always pretty stubborn and a tough guy for my own good, but since having two children at once, my right arm could be on fire and I would use it as an opportunity to remind the world of my physical feats, “Oh please, I had twins, I can handle this,” as my wrist snaps off and falls the floor in a char.
I told him I was okay, though I could tell from the dampening gauze I was starting to bleed a little. “It’s fine, it’s just because it’s fresh,” I said. Your dad looked at me like I was gross. “I’m all stitched up! I mean I’m not going to bleed.”
Your dad was still looking at me. “That’s an interesting choice of an outfit.”
I smiled. From the waist down, I was in my Civil War Re-enactor gear, my army green cropped pants and black combat boots. From the waist up, a tan fringed tank top with long, long fringes, like something you’d see a girl in the ’80’s or a Native American wear.
I smiled. “Why thank you. I carefully selected this outfit, thinking the pants would be good because they have this high, paper bag waist, and the shirt good for distraction.” I ran my fingers through the fringes like they were a horse’s pony tail.
With that a young, young girl with cornsilk hair standing in front of me turned around. She rolled her eyes and said, “Is this a joke?” referring to the line. I thought, oh my god is she talking to me? What do I say? like the weird girl in the cafeteria whose presence gets suddenly graced by the Queen Bee. This girl in front of me was so put together from head to toe. Cocktail rings. Chunky necklace. Gucci bag. Even the belt to her Burberry jacket was tied in the back in a neat little bow. She smelled of perfume. I had a ball of bloody gauze down my pants.
“This is hilarious,” I said, in a strange accent.
She pulled her friend in closer and with hooked arms nodded to check out a Zac Efron type standing in the window, as another guy came around from behind.
These girls had the same name, yet the way they each said it, it sounded completely different.
With my superior eavesdropping skills I devised I was witnessing a set up, a blind date. Just when I thought my night couldn’t get any better…
…When we finally got inside, our party was sharing a room in the basement with the Lehman Brothers reunion.
Half of the room was old tan rich guys in suits.
The other, a rollicking crew in jeans who work in advertising, and one uncategorized, me.
CLINK CLINK CLINK.
The Lehman guys tapped on beer glasses, and one by one stood on a bar stool and made speeches. We didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t our party, yet, out of respect we felt we had to turn and listen. I leaned in to your father and whispered, “do you think it would be inappropriate if I asked that guy if he was in the movie ‘Too Big to Fail?'” Your father scolded me immediately, “those four guys right there are on CNBC every morning.”
As we went on to listen to stories of the good ol days, of charity works and camps, I suddenly felt wet. I looked down at my fringed tank top and saw it was all red. “Oh wow, oh no, when did I spill all of this wine on myself?” Then I realized, it wasn’t wine, but blood. My stitch had opened and I was bleeding badly. “Oh no!”
Clutching my waist and containing my shirt and the blood with my arm I slinked through the crowd in a panic, hunched over, saying excuse me past the CNBC guys, trying to suck in so as not to soil their suits that probably cost more than our house. I didn’t tell your dad or anyone what happened, I just took off.
Inside the bathroom the poor attendant was horrified. She kept handing me paper towels. I was like thank you, but I don’t need a paper towel, I need a tourniquet, do you happen to have one next to the mints?
Once I finally taped myself back up, stopped the bleeding, I took off my shirt and ran it under cold water. Thankfully, the blood stain had lifted so I wouldn’t terrorize the crowd when I came back out, which is always a good thing, not to terrorize anything, like a room full of captains of industry.
I dried it under the Xelerator dryer, which I kind of always wanted to do ever since seeing Madonna dry her armpits in the bathroom of Port Authority in “Desperately Seeking Susan.” (Bucket list!)
Back with your dad, I told him it was time to go. Though no longer bleeding I was in pain and clutching my stomach.
“What? What’s going on?”
“I’m a wounded soldier, Denby! This Civil War Re-enactor’s been shot!”
He escorted me up the stairs and out the door to the street corner where we would wait for a car to take us home.
He was a nervous wreck.
I was hungry.
“Babe come on, really? Well, what do you want? I’ll go get you something. I’ll go get you pizza.”
“I don’t want pizza.”
Our eyes moved to the bodega next door.
“Do you want a sandwich? I’ll get you a sandwich.”
“I don’t want a sandwich.”
“The bagel place? That’s still open–”
“I’m sorry, nothing is appealing to me.”
Then, I spied it.
Calling to me like a beacon in the night.
Chinese food, while bleeding on a street corner at ten o’clock p.m. Perfect.
“I want soup.”
“Soup? No. Babe, how are you gonna eat soup in the car home?”
“I”ll sip it.”
“You’re not gonna sip it.”
“What do you mean? Of course I’m going to sip it. That’s what you do. You sip soup.”
“Yeah but not while in the backseat of a moving car. It’s going to be a disaster.”
“I need soup.”
“No soup for you.”
(I loved him so much for saying that.)
We went in to Mapo Tofu and your dad ordered me to sit in a chair. He ordered me food– sauteed vegetables, brown rice and a spring roll–and told me to sit and wait for it while he ran next door to get me tylenol for my increasing pain. I sat slumped on a chair in the corner of the restaurant next to a stature of a gold-glittered cat, keeled over at my waist, listening to twangy harp music, while the delivery guy and cashier lady talked about me in Chinese.
…Once home, spring rolls eaten, teeth brushed, wounds cleaned, pajamas on, I saw your bedroom door open. You guys were sleeping at Nanny’s for the night. I went in to your room and saw your father sitting in your nursery chair in the dark. He was staring at your beds.
“Remember when we were decorating this room?” he said.
I stood in the doorway. He sat in the chair. Quiet. Dark. Finally, I said, “I miss them, too.”