Monday, May 16, 2011

Memory Lane: NYC style

I would most definitely say I grew up in Manhattan, New York.
Not in the way we, as a society, define grew up:  As in one certain age existing up until another certain age.  I grew up in New York the way one defines that moment they start really getting a kick out of living.  No more holding back, live confidently in whatever direction you want to head.

One thing I never really lacked a lot of confidence in, but was surely never accepted or encouraged for in my youthful days, was asking a boy out.   And not until I moved to the big apple did I know that in Manhattan, the opportunities were plentiful, and doing so was completely accepted and often encouraged.  And though it wasn't really the great date-getting that set it all off, but the stories that came with dating,  that my confidence grew, in a city that changed me for the better, where my individual self finally came together as a whole.  My best friend, having known me since the 4th grade, said to me at the time, "when you moved to new york, you totally made sense."  I take it as a compliment.
I was dying to live confidently.

This morning, I was flipping through one of the many issues of New York magazine that our neighbor generously donates to our doorstep every couple of weeks and that I devour like bacon on a Sunday.  New York City, as many a great observer has noted, is lots of little neighborhoods creating quite a small town, no matter who you are.  Before moving to the city, famous people were larger than life stars we read about or saw on the big screen.  In New York, they become part of the daily scenery to the point of normality which can be difficult to explain to visitors.  It's the best small town I've ever lived in and more often than not, NYmag reminds me why.  Unlike The New Yorker, which kept me intellectually satiated for many years after moving away, I'm now ready to reminisce about the early days of city livin' and only NY Mag can give me that fun walk down memory lane.  They write about some classic fringe, famous and infamous characters, some of which happened to be part of my growing up in this small town.
This week there was a listing in the Agenda section that caught my eye and sent me right back to this particular night I volunteered with friends for a benefit auction held at The Puck Building: 

The Puck is a ridiculously grand building that commands a corner of the city at the very heart of action in every direction.   We were dressed to the nines and already feeling fabulous when the guests arrived.  The donation tables were laden with food, done-up baskets of goodies, handbags, surfboards, wine, all very enticing to people with lots of money to donate to an incredibly worthy cause.  Because my friend was the man behind the guest list, we all knew we were about to rub elbows with some big-shots of the newsworthy sort.  One of these big-shots (said loosely) was Dan Abrams.  Before hot-shot newsman Anderson Cooper, there was Dan Abrams.  And, I don't know why, but this guy floated my boat back then and I couldn't wait to meet him. 

At first we were disappointed many of us would have to miss the where-its-at live auction in the grand ballroom and instead stand-by to man the silent-auction tables, but I soon realized, in the parlance of great parties, we were the kitchen to the living room:  and EVERYONE wants to be in the kitchen. The party raged on in front of our eyes.

I was manning the wine table, where a donor could take home a years worth of vino for the winning bid, when up walked my big-shot:  Dan Abrams.  None of my friends really knew who the hell he was, but I was instantly giddy and cool all at the same time, or so I thought.  I recognized him immediately, those ice blue eyes and that dark brown, perfectly coiffed hair... and, what?  No girl on his arm!?  I was in like flynn.  We small talked and he wrote his bid on the sheet.  He lingered a bit longer than necessary and I was sure there was some connection.  Unfortunately, he disappeared for the rest of the night, but before he did, he told me a secret:  He wasn't going to keep coming around the table to raise his bid, as others would, but he'd be back just before the bidding closed and be the last one to write down his bid and he would most definitely win!  I tittered.  I laughed.  I smiled showing teeth and smirked with closed lips.  I put a strand of very short hair behind my ear and probably batted my eyes.  I'm in on this secret with Dan Abrams!  This dapper man-child who I watch on TV has brought me into his little world!  Mostly, I thought to myself, that will be the perfect time to ask him out!  Just as he writes down his name and number, 
turns to hear that the silent auction is closed 
and he's the winner,  
he'll be in a jubilant mood, 
I'll tap him on the shoulder and, 
in my complete confidence,  
'why don't we break open the first bottle together to celebrate our cleverness?'  
or something just as sly, charming and witty.
It'll be perfect.

And it was, for the most part.  He did come round at just-before-closing, sign his name in, give me a wink and woosh, disappeared into the crowd all moving out the front door, onto their next fabulous party somewhere just as cool.  I didn't get to tap him on the shoulder.  I didn't get to throw out my witty line and show Dan Abrams that his fame didn't intimidate me:  I was too hip, too modern not to ask a man out!
But, I did come up with another idea.
With the first case of wine sitting on the table in front of me, knowing it was to be delivered to his home,  I quickly jotted a note something to the effect of 
'congratulations! your plan worked! why don't we break open the first bottle together to celebrate our cleverness?
and signed with my name and number.  
We each had to clear our table and bring the bid sheet to the volunteers running the cash-out machines.  I was overly cheery when I handed over the goods, picturing Dan Abrams opening up my note and dialing my number in the very near future.

About a month or so later, I got a call.  This message was on my machine:

Hi, um, hi, I'm a little embarrassed because I don't totally remember meeting you, but you left this note in the wine case I brought home from the auction...and...ha, hee hee, ha, it's funny.  I mean, I'm glad you left it.  Yeah, um, yeah, um, really glad.  And yeah, it would be, um, uh, yeah, it would be fun to go out with you!  Yeah, let's open this bottle up together!  Ha. Um. Yeah, uh, yeah, um, it's funny, cuz you wrote something about my plan working or it worked or something, um, but um, what did you mean? what worked? ha! um, yeah, right, great, so call me back!  My number is, um....

Yeah, it wasn't Dan Abrams.
I don't know who the guy was that actually won the wine that night, but over the next few weeks, it became increasingly clear this wasn't the outcome I had hoped for, as this guy continued to call me demanding a reason why I would leave him this note and and then not call him back. 

Oh, Dan Abrams, you missed your chance!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where NewYork mag sent me this week.


Marion Williams-Bennett said...

I love how you describe "growing up" in New York, and think that's kind of an amazing thing to do. That time of our lives is such a time of discovery, of reaching and learning. Discovery can also mean disappointment, and to be able navigate all that in New York makes the experience that much richer.

I love this line:

"when you moved to new york, you totally made sense."

Now, Dan Abrams..I remember when the Supreme Court handed down their decision on Bush v Gore, and there was Dan Abrams in his trench coat, on the steps of the Supreme Court, delivering the verdict. I thought, well, at least Dan Abrams is telling me. Blue eyes!

Christina said...

Omg. Classic. I love that story. I want to hear more of Molly's NY Tales!

Julie said...

What an awesome story! LOL! I am blushing with you over listening to the answering machine guy call! I love that you had the chutzpah to try too! He is a a blue-eyed dreamboat.

Tiny Dancer said...

I so get it about where a person grows up. There has always been something not right when I would say "I grew up in the valley," cuz I didn't. It's where I went from baby to high school graduation. No wonder I love the little town where I went to college...that's where I grew up!

Love your story and all the images it evokes.