New York is a particularly pretty place at holiday time, despite the cold, New Yorkers bundle up and hit the streets, especially when there are a few snow flakes floating around, to enjoy window-shopping, the smell of chestnuts roasting and the sight of pseudo Santa’s ringing their bells on every other street corner.
One of my producer buddies kicks off the holiday season every year with a major party in his townhouse. Hundreds of theater types cross the Hudson to work their way through the maze of rooms wonderfully decorated with theater trivia from a long and enviable career, picking at the eclectic feast laid out on the dining table and generally making merry. Shortly before exiting for home, I happen to eye-witness an accidental red wine spill on a Persian rug by an only “somewhat” younger out-of-towner (aka Bond, James) who impressed me by how quickly he moved to clean up the spill. A few days later, I received . . .
His email: “New Year’s Eve, Black tie, you pick it, I’ll pay.”
I hit REPLY: “Slow down puppy, I’m old enough to be your mother . . . okay, so maybe just an Aunt . . . Besides, I’m in an eight-year relationship with a swell guy and we’ll be spending a quiet 12/31 in front of my fireplace.”
His response: “Hey . . . me thinks you flatter me my Lady . . . I’m an empty nester . . . AND as to the eight-year relationship, you’ve heard of the 7-year itch?? – His shelf life is about up so I figure I’m in the right place at the right time. As I was sayin’ . . . New Year’s Eve, black tie, you pick it, I’ll pay.”
(Soooo “I take it stirred, not shaken” – hence, his code name)
He was right: just in time for him to save on holiday gifting, the-on-again-off-again-BF-from-out-of-town went back off. So a few days in to the New Year, when Bond, James was back in town, I accepted his invitation to lunch on the Upper West Side — and to breakfast a couple of days later, in Soho. He put the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rule into effect: no discussion about age; he didn’t want to know and he didn’t want to tell.
Same time-ish, The Britt (aka Surfer Dude) earned his code name from the first coffee date we didn’t have “because,” he emailed “surf’s up in Hawaii so I flew out here to ride the 30-foot wave . . . I’ll be back on Friday, can we rain check ‘til then?”
Passed that one to Karen who hit REPLY to me: “sure beats dog ate my homework!”
A bit of a whiner who needed time to recoup from his Hawaiian escapade, we met next when I showed up for Christmas cocktails at his office party. He looked even better than I remembered from the bit I saw when he sat down next to the guy who sat next to me a few weeks earlier. I left a couple of hours later, having totally enjoyed myself surrounded by his fellow brainiacs and laughing at what felt like a Carrie Bradshaw moment: I made my entrance decked out in boots, jeans, frilly lace shirt and Armani jacket – he mouthed the word “wow” and reading his lips, I felt pretty . . . and I liiiikkked him. He was heading out of town for the holidays but said he’d call me when he returned.
The holidays passed and barely holding on to my sanity with my dad’s sudden downturn, I took just a quick weekend getaway the first weekend in January, with Paley, sharing a house in West Palm with 10 other gals who happened to pick that very weekend to visit the same gracious couple happily hosting us all. Every lovely lady more fun than the other, we hung out at the pool and shared hilarious stories. Friday night we went out on the town and I danced the night away with a famous fashion designer with boutiques in all the right zip codes . . . I tried to convince him to create a funky couture line for women over 55 who don’t want to look like their imitating their teenage daughters but do want to look sassy . . . I don’t think he heard me.
Saturday night was one of our host’s daughter’s 50th with dinner for all prepared by one of her gal-pals who flew in for the weekend with her: the owner/chef of the fabulous Kings Carriage House on the upper East Side. A storm came in, the lights went out and we finished our dinner telling tall tales by candlelight — 12 women, 2 men. Our host invited a handsome, available, age-appropriate neighbor. He sat next to Paley igniting her feminine prowess . . .
Tuesday, Jan 13, and I’m home again. I leave my dad’s hospital room. He’s turned for the worse. Unfocused, back out on the street, I fall off a curb wearing those exercise sneakers with rocking chair bottoms and land on my knee. Groaning and moaning, I somehow manage to limp home, borrow a neighbor –and stealing my dad’s wheelchair from his apartment in the building next to mine — I wind up back in the same hospital as my dad. In the ER, waiting for x-rays. Phone rings and it’s that post-holiday call from Surfer Dude, catching me in my awkward moment. He gallantly insists on playing hero to my damsel in ridiculous distress and comes downtown to keep me company, looking even more like a Rock Star.
Minutes later Karen and Tool Man surprise me, too with a couple bottles of wine and paper cups. What quickly becomes a no-pity party for four begins there and ends with a confirmed cracked right kneecap and Surfer Dude wheeling me safely home.
With one leg in a cast, I slip in to my closet and change in to my every day cotton flannel floor length ruffled I-AM-A-SOOO-UNSEXY-MOMMY nightgown –peering out from the closet, I realize he is kindly waiting to see if I can manage all this . . . I straighten up, take a deep breathe and tell myself to “own this moment.” Even so, I bolt out in a big hop, leap into my bed and under the comforter, hoping-against-hope he didn’t catch the unmistakable granny flannel. Which, of course, he did. To my surprise, I catch a gentle smile cross his face as I duck my head under my pillow and cave in to feeling totally humiliated. He uncovers a piece of my forehead, kisses me lightly “good night” and tiptoes away. Lights out.
Note to self: Invest in sexy nightwear. Please!