Have I earned this, I thought, as I sank into the warm banquette. These past four weeks have left me in quite a state of thirst, if you will. I needed to just sit and be quiet with my thoughts and frayed feelings.
Have you ever heard the expression, we make plans while God laughs?
I had just gotten cozy, a nice cup of fresh coffee with a shot of Jameson gracing it when a pack of little girls came bounding in for a pre Easter celebration.
There had to be 1o of them decked out in an array of spring pastels. They reminded me of wound up Easter eggs with patent leather shoes. I sat there stunned at their unexpected arrival.
Three nannies herded them like goats into one area of Bemelmans. I guess whatever mom was footing the lavish bill must have instructed, seat them by the Madeline mural so they can proceed to ignore it.
They couldn’t have been more than 5, 6 tops so all they seemed concerned with was who could out squeal the other.
I decided to drink my coffee and get the hell out if there until I had a small, pale pink visitor looking up at me.
“Hi, I’m Delilah, and this is my party.” The entitlement took me off guard, like she had rented out the whole bar. Maybe she did since, besides the bartender, I was the only one there. She was waiting patiently for me to introduce myself.
“I’m Susannah. It’s…(I stuttered at first since I knew I’d be lying)…very nice to meet you.”
“There’s gonna be a cake with bunnies on it, but I don’t think it’s here yet.”
“Well, it’s a busy time of year for bunnies,” I said, “but I’m sure it will get here soon.” I started to get my wallet out to pay my bill.
“Are you going?” Delilah asked surprised. “Don’t you want to stay for cake?” I had to laugh because as small as she was you could almost see who she was going to grow up to be. The fund-raiser, the hostess with the mostess, the woman whose dinner party invitation was coveted by all.
“I hadn’t planned on cake,” I said, slightly unnerved. Just then another egg showed up by the name of Bethy who sat on the other side of me taking it upon herself to sniff my coffee cup.
“That doesn’t smell like coffee,” she said like a private eye.
“That’s because there’s whiskey in it.” I figured these kids were too smart to fib to.
“We’re having Shirley Temples,” she said, “you should have one.” Yes, I needed something alright but I’m not sure that was it.
“My mom’s hair is longer than yours,” Bethy said, as she decided to run her fingers through it. “Your hairs more like daddy’s.”(omigod)
Ellis, the bartender, came over to see if I’d like more coffee. “She wants what we’re having,” Delilah said, “so could you bring one. Put it on my check.”
I know you think I’m making this up, but rich children are like this. They are born and bred out of the womb to take charge and dominate. I felt like Little Nell with a brand new benefactress.
“It’s my mother’s check,” she said, correcting herself, but it’s my party.”
“I understand,” I said, as Ellis actually brought me a Shirley Temple in a Tom Collins glass.
I now had 6 eggs all over me looking in my handbag, playing with my pearls.
“My nana wears pearls,” said Taylor who looked like a short Christie Brinkley. Great, now I’m a grandmother on the wagon no less.
“Aren’t you going to drink your drink?” said Bethy. I took a sip, since it was simpler than saying no realizing that Ellis had added something a bit more than grenadine and a cherry.
“It’s good isn’t it?” Delilah said.
“It certainly is.”
As they were all buzzing like bees I noticed one kid sitting by herself in the corner, her legs dangling off the edge of the banquette like a bored doll. There was something about her that swelled something in me and then I realized, she reminded me of me. She was clearly a loner, a little chunkier than the other girls with their swan like bodies and premature, pubescent sense of themselves. You could tell she was forced to attend against her better judgment. I could almost hear her mother say, “Don’t you want any friends for crying out loud?”
Her name was Megan and according to Delilah, had big problems. Her parents were recently divorced and she didn’t like anybody, therefore nobody liked her.
“Delilah, wouldn’t it be nice to ask Megan to come sit with you? I mean you’re the host after all and she does look lonesome.”
“Yeah but she bites,” added Taylor. Just then a nanny came over to distribute cake. She smiled as she handed me a colossal slice.
“I see the little missy has found a new friend,” she said smiling, her middle-aged face a mass of happy wrinkles, if there is such a thing.
“Yes, they’ve recruited me as a party guest,” I said, grinning despite myself. Of course it could have been the rum in my Shirley Temple that suddenly made me the life of the party.
“Oh look, you got a bunny ear,” said Luisa who seemed miffed by this.
“Well it all comes down to who you know, “I said, winking at Delilah.
“What does that mean?” snapped Luisa, her hands on her hips.
“Oh never mind.”
I decided to go over to talk to Megan. “Hi, I’m Susannah,” I said, squeezing in beside her. “I’m a friend of Delilahs. I guess you are too.” She looked at me like I had three heads. “Maybe you want to come over and sit with us,” I said, though I knew it was a long shot.
“I’m okay here,” she said. I had brought over my cake (that could have fed Somalia) so I passed her a fork full. She hesitated but took it which was promising. Then the army of eggs came over demanding to know what we were talking about. I saw Megan stiffen but to her credit, she held her ground.
“I think it was very nice of you Delilah to invite me and Megan to your party. I can’t remember when we had a better time, right Megan?”
She gave me a strange look as if to say, speak for yourself why don’t you.
“If you give me your email address I’ll give it to my nanny and she’ll put you on my mailing list,” said Delilah. “My birthday’s in July and I’m having a big party at the Plaza.”
“Hmm, you don’t say.”
“Yeah, you gotta book early.”
“That’s what I hear.”
After exchanging emails, I bid farewell to my new flock of friends who were very sad to see me go. When I went to the bar to pay Ellis, he waved me off.
“Don’t tell me, she picked up my check.” We both laughed.
“Kids nowadays, they aren’t really kids, are they?” he said, shaking his head.
“Yes they are. You just have to look beyond their expense account. There’s an Easy Bake Oven lurking behind that Platinum Card just dying to come out.”
“Do you have kids?”
“No I don’t.”
“Too bad, you’re great with them.”
“Thanks, that’s a nice thing to say.”
I thought about what he said as I swayed home drunk on Shirley Temples.