Putting my money where my mouth was I redistributed a chunk of my wealth this past weekend in the city, living large, as it were, and tipping lavishly, though remaining all the while humble and thankful for my good fortune — a pluralist despite exceptionalist tendencies.
At the Oyster Bar, and having ordered six Blue Points and six round ones from Maine, I knew that while I was no Diamond Jim Brady, I was blessed — all the more so because Mary, who I had thought would be sharing, contented herself with shrimp.
All about us, waiters whirled as shuckers, their backs to the bar, shucked — their timing impeccable, a mesmerizing balletic performance worthy of an opening night at the Met.
Wherever that is. We get to the city so infrequently and we’re so forgetful that we never lose that frisson of being there for the first time, giddy yet at sea. Global positioning would spoil the fun. . . . “See, I told you I could get us to the Algonquin . . . and we didn’t make one wrong turn.”
In the city all is movement, purposeful movement, no time to watch the leaves fall or the birds at the feeder. These people, I think, seem to be on top of things, prompt, confident, in step. Meanwhile, Mary periodically stops to wait for me, an ambler rather than a purposeful strider, to catch up.
There are bons mots by Roundtablers all over the doors at the hotel. Ours had one by Dorothy Parker, who, when told a woman she knew had come back from a stay in London with her ankle in a cast, presumed that it had resulted from “sliding down all those barristers.”
The New Yorker cartoon wallpaper in the halls had one of a guy reading the obituaries and thinking, “Twelve years older than me . . . Two years younger . . . Just my age. . . .” I could relate to that. I don’t want to die with a pleasure deficit in my account. I thought of going down to Zuccotti Park and commiserating, but there would be time for that. Things need fixing for sure, but Roy Hargrove and Jimmy Heath were at the Blue Note playing Dizzy Gillespie songs.
There there was joy and soaring and heavenly flights. Notes leaped, dived, and streaked about like quarks — a wonderful beauty, a pluralist universe of exceptional musicians soloing and jamming together — just as it should be.
Just as it should be.