Triple P Party
“You’ll never guess who I saw yesterday.”
She was chewing gum so loudly that I had a hard time understanding. This was nothing new; no one spoke more rapidly than my best friend, Audrey. Often I had to ask her to repeat herself, which she would, but only after a huge sigh.
“Who?” I moved the phone back to my right ear.
“You have to guess. You’re gonna flip out.”
Ugh. These games were only fun when she caught me during my shift at Café Rouge. On weekend nights, I was the first bartender on schedule. By 9:00, Jacques and Mimi, the owners, were downing their second or third bottle of Bordeaux. When Neena, the closing bartender would arrive, I’d normally be on my second or third phone call from Audrey. Neena called her “the wife.”
But, tonight was my only free night. I was home alone. “I don’t want to play.”
“Why not, Mr. Cranky. You’re gonna shit when you guess who it is.”
I thought about who would be the last person I’d want to see if I died crossing 2nd Avenue to pick up dinner at The Cauldron. “Um, Sylvester?”
“No. Omigod, what made you think of him?”
“I have no idea.” He was our drug connection in college. You could get almost anything from him: ludes, speed, joints. Or through him. Or however those people work. I’d left a tab with him, and only on rare occasions had a pang of guilt about it.
“Nope, last I heard, Sylvester was still behind bars. You know, Nancy Reagan’s crackdown.”
“Just say no.” I thought about lighting up a joint. “What a crock.”
“Would’ve loved to be her, just for one day.” Audrey sighed.
“Oh, give me a break. She was an addict, too.” I lit up, took a huge hit, then held my breath. It was great tasting weed from Hawaii. Maui Wowee.
“I know, I know- you’ve said it a million times. Anti-depressants. I’d be on them too if I was married to that goon. Don’t try to change the subject. You’re not guessing.”
I blew out the smoke, and had the same endless thought: where did it all go? “Boy or girl?”
At least that made the game more exciting. “Give me another clue.”
Without a second’s thought, “Lives in Jersey.” She was dexterous at games.
“That rules everyone out. The only person I know from Jersey is Debbie Lewis, and she joined the Peace Corps in 89.” I took another toke, felt the immediate flood… of what? Relief? Nah. Incapacitation? Maybe. I sunk further into my sofa.
“Really? What country?”
Exhaled a thin stream. “Liberia.”
“Huh. Okay, here’s another clue: double initials.” Now she was eating some noodle dish, I heard the slurping sounds and my stomach growled. Sammy’s Noodles. Mmm.
I closed my eyes and tried to remember anyone I knew with double initials, but only celebrities came to mind. Tina Turner. Matthew Modine. Then, as I took another drag, one of my favorite authors popped into my head. Audrey and I had met him at a 92nd Street Y book signing. “Was it Shel Silverstein?”
She giggled, then burped. “Sorry. No, silly; not even close.”
“Is he hot?”
There was a pause. “Very. Least we used to think so.”
I crushed out the joint and sat up. A deeper level of interest. “We, as in, you and me? Or the public at large?”
“C’mon, think. Okay, here’s a really huge clue. Worked with me at the radio station, same Saturday shift. Favorite band was Haircut One Hundred.”
The light clicked on. “No way.” I sat up. “Peter Pavia?”
“The one and only. Can you fucking believe it?”
My heart was pounding. Suddenly, I needed water. “Where? How?”
“I was at the Cloisters- ”
“Park or Café?”
“Slow down, mister, you’ll give yourself a heart attack. You need to be careful; your genes aren’t so great in that department.”
“Yeah, thanks for reminding me.” It was probably true. Dad dropped dead on the job, massive coronary. No signs, so the family story goes. He was 47. Now that 30 was approaching, I felt that number haunting my own future and could only wonder.
“Just looking out for you. So, I was at Cloisters cafe, having tea with Lenore, you know, ‘luscious Lenore,’ dances with the City Ballet. She pointed out some guy at the corner table on the patio. That gorgeous patio with the vines criss-crossing overhead, and that immense fish tank, and the creaky stone flooring.”
My impatience grew. “Audrey- get to the Peter part.”
“I’m there. It was him, in the corner, sitting alone. He was reading.”
“What. Reading what?” It was inconsequential, but it suddenly seemed important.
“An issue of The Paris Review.”
“Oh god.” I had dry mouth, chugged a huge glass of water.
“Well, it’s not Kitty Kelley, is it?” Another double initial celebrity. And Reagan biographer. “What was he wearing?”
“Black leather bomber jacket. Like the ones that hang above the registers at Cheapie Eddie’s. Only nicer.”
“Uh huh.” I was already conjuring images of Tom Cruise: Top Gun. I’d be his Goose, his second in command, his…
“-recognized me right away.”
“What? Sorry, could you please repeat that?”
“He recognized me, and looked past where I was standing. He probably expected I’d be there with you.”
I jumped off the sofa, smiling. “What makes you say that?” I held the phone away so that Audrey wouldn’t hear me breathing harder, began pacing.
“Just an inkling.”
“Did you get his address?” Marriage proposals. Honeymoons. “A number?”
“Better, my dear. This Friday, we’re attending Peter Pavia’s party.”
The Triple P Party! “Omigod! What will I wear?”