The rain blew me right in the front door. Alright, I’m exaggerating, but it did influence my entrance.
Perils of a skinny girl who felt she was levitating.
I decide to behave and go straight to the ante room off the bar that looks like a miniature Versailles.
“Coffee please,” I say to the waiter whose crisp white jacket smells like Downy Fabric Softener.
My eyes can’t help but to gaze toward the entrance to Bemelmans, wondering who’s there gracing its noble bar.
No one very interesting is alongside me at the half dozen tiny tables. An older woman in vintage Chanel who’s sitting with a pleasant Indian lady who seems like a paid companion. I watch as their lunch plates are cleared away.
To her left is a business man on his phone she’s giving dirty looks to. In her day, one wasn’t so rude in a public place such as The Carlyle.
A flamboyant couple sit down accompanied by a dozen shopping bags. The man’s Rolex, the size of Big Ben, glistens in the soft light.
I’m bored, and think, I’ll just ask for my coffee to be taken to the bar. I can do that, pretend I’m an Astor with a trust fund.
The waiter complies, but I know he’d like me to pay the check first, which I do tipping him as if I really were an Astor.
The barmaid pops over. “Um, so, it’s been a while. Do chips go with coffee?”
I look at her and think, why not. At these prices yes, I can always toss them in my scarf and have them for dinner.
Oddly enough, I’m not yearning for a cocktail, even though my own spirits are low.
My swoons come and go, this one lasting a bit longer than usual, but my money’s on Bemelmans to burst its bubble.
I keep praying, the little lapsed Catholic that I am, asking for a sign that all is not lost. A glimmer of light would be nice, to let me know, hope, the little devil, is just stuck in traffic.
My over-tipped waiter comes in to bring me a fresh pot of coffee. Gee, God, that’s real nice, but I was hoping for something a little more miraculous.
Suddenly the back door off the lobby opens, and who tools in but Maxwell Press, I’ll call him, an actor I had a hot canoodle with, way back when.
Hitting 70, still turning heads, a combination of Cary Grant, the Eiffel Tower and a cougar looking for a snack. Looming over his audience at 6’2, he spots me at once as if I were waiting for him.
The thing about him is, ten years could go by, and he acts as though you’ve just left his room.
“Hallo Darlin, aren’t you a picture perched so prettily.”
Yeah, he’s very hard to resist, like cashmere, or your favorite pie.
He sits without invitation, calling the barmaid over who starts to stutter.
He gazes at my coffee and sighs. “That wagon you appear to be on must get awfully lonely there ducky. How about a little bubbly?”
Hard to stay sober around a matinee idol, but I decline knowing, when you’re feeling this poorly, nothing is so bad that a drink won’t make worse.
He takes my refusal well, ordering a martini with olives, I know he’ll play with like props. The stuff one remembers.
“What is it? Why are you here in the middle of the day abstaining? I know that face. Something has made you sad.”
I’m actually touched by him saying this since, he’s such a lady’s man. How the hell he keeps us all straight, I’ll never know.
I mention this and he says, “I can see you’re still underestimating yourself. Don’t you know I cherish the time we’ve spent, always.”
Tears arrive like the sprinkler system just went off weeping on his Savile Row tweedy shoulder.
“I feel hopeless, like there’s nothing to look forward to anymore,” I say, like Little Nell, tied to the railroad tracks.
“Oh sweet girl, you are so, so silly. Of course there’s hope. It’s the one thing that cannot be lost.”
I was waiting for him to break into a little Shakespeare, those English vowels bouncing off the ceiling. To be or not to be.
Suddenly my sense of humor is back when I say, “You still look like Ken.”
“Ken? Do I know him?” he says, smirking. All he needs are whiskers and a waggy tail.
“You know what I mean,” I say shaking my head. “How do you stay so handsome despite…
“Being a fossil?”
“I wasn’t going to put it that way exactly, but yes. What is it? Some type of bovine injection? zinc?”
“No, my throttle one could say, is not what it once was, but thinking about it a lot doesn’t hurt.” I smile, sucked into his charm oozing like a gas leak.
“It’s all in your mind ducky, this hopelessness you’re weeping over. Embrace all you can. Be in love more, even if it’s just for the afternoon.”
So, without going into detail, we had a very nice early supper in his suite that felt right out of a Noel Coward play, especially when he changed into a navy satin smoking jacket.
But I have to say…
it’s nice running into an old friend who’s already has had a peek of who you are, and what you need, what you like, and what you don’t like.
When he recites a little Keats, that doesn’t hurt either.
“Touch has memory”…
Alas, you said it there ducky.