When the night was over, I collected my things, said goodbye to my bartender friend and to the host. As I got in the elevator, I noticed that she had tipped me so generously, I had to go back upstairs to make sure it was intended. I felt stupid when she said of course she intended to and I thanked her again and went on my way.
Friday, February 26, 2010
I felt a little out of my element as I traveled through yet another snowstorm to a gig in the city. I responded to the ad about a week ago with a new and fresh perspective, keeping in mind my epiphany moment from a week or so ago (magic moment 16). I responded with a positive attitude as if I were perfectly suited for the job and I felt confident that I could perform well.
Performing was not why I was feeling out of my element however, just being out of my element was! I was to perform for a cocktail party in a Park Avenue penthouse. Now, the fanciest thing I’ve ever been to was my own wedding. And we ate at a place called Lee’s Chicken afterwards (where I used to play the piano in college). Just to give you an idea of the level of my naiveness, I had to google cocktail party and then google cocktail dress. After careful research of how I should dress and act, and carefully selecting a set list of all the staples for a New York City crowd (Billy Joel, Elton John, and Broadway), I got myself ready to go.
The closest thing I had to cocktail attire was a 6 year old black dress that I could only afford in the first place because it was 75% off and I only fit into it because I starved myself for the last 3 days. My sister told me that if I blow dry my hair the opposite way it normally lays and then straighten it, I'll have volume much longer (works like a charm, if you’re curious). I put on eye make up the fancy way - lid, crease, and brow. I wore my leather gloves and best coat, vintage with a fur collar (totally Audrey Hepburn) and I was probably the only person in Jersey to wear those kind of heels in a snowstorm, but if it killed me, I was gonna make it work.
Once again, leaving my house a million hours early because it was rush and hour and a snow storm, I made it to Port Authority where I killed some time with a cup of coffee and a book, and then it was down to the subway – 7 train and then 6 train all the way up town. I walked a few blocks to the building and a sharply dressed, very polite doorman opened the front door. On a side note, I think my husband would make an excellent doorman when he retires and if we’re still living near the city. They're polite, knowledgeable, and always make you feel safe.
When the elevator stopped at the hosts' front door and I stepped into their home, I thought, “Whoa Toto, I don’t think we’re playing at Lee’s Chicken anymore.” The place was beautiful and spacious, like Charlotte's apartment in "Sex and the City." Hallways and rooms went back farther than I could see. The furniture was pristine and the artwork, detailed and carefully selected. The wall colors were a meticulous blend of rose and ivory and the kitchen was large, clean, white, and open.
As the host and I got acquainted, I tried to ooze with grace and intellectual conversation. Be delightful, be confident, be…rich. This may not be the time to mention that I drove a car named Sludge for 3 years (the name explains it all) and another car too pitiful to have a name with no shocks and its’ side mirror dangling from the doors. Also may want to keep on the down low that when my husband and I order pizza, we don’t even use plates.
But the host was charming and made me feel very comfortable as I took my seat behind the baby grand piano that barely took up any space at all in the large room. I was placed right next to the bar where the bartender and I made quick friends on the shared experience of feeling out of our class. While the party guests paid little attention to me at the piano, he clapped after each song I played. Though the guests weren’t rude or anything, I suddenly felt very aware of the separation between us. I was "the hired." It was like nothing I felt before, but it was very apparent that was the case.
As I played a Taylor Swift song, a little girl who lives there pushed her way to the piano to tell me that she “loves that song!” I asked her if she wanted to sing it and she said yes. So I started the song again and the little girl, too young and innocent to know her place, sang every word and note perfectly.
The night went beautifully. Guests were taking my business cards and a few even made eye contact with me and smiled. The only glitch was when a slightly intoxicated older man asked me if I was the mother of one of the 4th graders in his daughter’s class. I only managed a horrified look as I shook my head no and suddenly thought, “Hmm. Botox. Maybe not such a bad idea after all.”
I said goodnight to the doorman and verified directions back to the subway. I began to smile and took a moment to reflect on all that took place that night. My efforts to work at having a new and better attitude were returned by God allowing me to have a wonderful night. A few steps onto the slushy street and I said out loud, to no one in particular, “That was good.”