Sunday, December 5, 2004

Snowbound on Park Avenue

One bubbly wifey in a fuzzy Burberry pullover kept watching me amusedly over her platinum rings. “You must be a cigar,” I told her in confidence, “because you are smokin’.”

“Do you like cigars?” broke in her chipper apparent husband. “I brought some great ones from our last trip to Paris. We’ll smoke them after dinner.” He patted my arm with fraternal promise. It was like wife-swapping. I was swapping him back his wife for a stogie. I want you to know that I can’t be bribed. I decided to hit on his wife more when he wasn’t sitting next to me.

We all drank our way through some uptown version of turkey and stuffing, which seemed to mostly be shellfish, and then repaired to the drawing room once again for the continued drawing-out of Kerry’s life of the party. Before the men could fully swarm her, I crouched down by her armchair and hissed, “What are you doing.”

“What do you mean? I’m having fun.” She swigged her Courvoisier and then remembered, “You wanted me to come! What’s the problem now?”

“I don’t know. I think you’re throwing off the data. We were supposed to observe, not take over. You are not following the Prime Directive.”

She looked at me and giggled, then, pointing at me with her snifter like Sidney Greenstreet, she said, “I think you’re just jealous.” She laughed to herself and settled back in the chair.

“Fine. Ruin the white people party. I don’t care.” I headed into the kitchen, looking for the sweater girl. I found her there with her husband. He had collected three snifters and was pouring out something from a flask. “This is the cognac we make at our vineyard in Toulouse,” he said. The third snifter was planned for me. He knew how to make friends. We toasted. It tasted better than the cognac we made at our vineyard. As he poured them out again, he said, “Now, for the cigars.”

The wifey got excited, but said to me demurely, “We want to go to Cuba someday, but usually we just buy them in France, since we’re there anyway.” The husband produced a leather bag with several cigar-shaped aluminum cans which each held an individual. “Are you a big cigar smoker?” I admitted I knew little. “Well, I’m having one of these. You have one too.” He gave me a giant tobacco bomb that said “Romeo y Julieta” on the band; a real literary piece of rope. The young lady selected a much smaller item. “I can’t smoke a whole one,” she said. I put the unlit cigar in my mouth and stood around wondering which way to the Yalta Conference.

“I don’t think they want smoke in the kitchen,” he said, and led us up the narrow stairs to the roof. It was brisk, and we lit up. A snifter of homebrew, an illegal smoke, and a beautiful woman. I was beginning to understand what the white people were on about. I was about to harrumph and begin, “I say, old man, now about this white business—” when the guy got a cell phone call and disappeared around a smokestack to confer about buying and selling. I smiled at his wife, who smiled at me. I handed her my cigar band. “Romeo and Julieta. Like you and me.” She rolled her eyes and stood there holding her burning cigar. “I enjoyed talking to your wife,” she said to me. “I don’t have a wife,” I said. “Your finacée,” she clarified. “Are you talking about Kerry?” I asked.


“She’s more of a beard. You see, I’m undercover. She is not beholden to me. She is a free agent, acting for her own interests.”

“That much seemed clear.” She puffed on her little cigar while I watched the world over mine. “You’re ‘undercover’, you say?”

“Yes, I’m here to observe white people. No offense.”

She watched me for a moment. “It’s a good disguise,” she said. I thanked her for saying so. “I even would have thought you were white,” she said.

“A lot of people make that mistake,” I admitted. “I find it easy to ‘pass’, since my parents were white and I was brought up that way. Now, however, I consider myself more ‘nondescript’.”

Her husband rejoined us and seemed pleased that we were not engaged in hot adultery. He offered the flask around again. “Thanks very much for your hospitality,” I said, and I meant it. “Now I had better go collect my things.”

I air-kissed my way back from the coat room, gathering up my coat, umbrella, and Kerry. “It’s time to go,” I told her. “Thank god,” she said. Her bonhomie seemed to have dissipated. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Tell you in the cab,” she said, and I bundled her into her arctic gear. I assured the hostess the party had not been as big a failure as she thought it was, left her heroically choking back tears on the doormat, and tried to kiss Kerry again in the elevator.

“Do you know what this guy did?” she asked me, when she’d got my head out of her neck.

“No, what.”

“One of those guys asked me if I was from downtown.”

“Yeah, they asked me that too.”

“Then he wanted to know how much for a blowjob.”

“He said that? Some guy?”

“Yeah. Can you believe it? Fucking asshole.”

I thought about this for a couple of dings from the elevator. “I guess up here on Mount Olympus, when they look down their telescopes at us, we must seem pretty irrelevant. They want to turn into swans and bulls and really put us to use.”

“It was gross,” Kerry said. I nodded.

“So — what did you tell him? How much?”

Separate cabs.

by Jack, December 5, 2004 4:16 PM | More from Drinking & Women | More from Kerry

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