Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Winter of our Discontent

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking.
But now, God knows,
Anything goes . - Cole Porter, "Anything Goes" 1934

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. - from Shakespeare's Richard III

East 59th Street, Winter, 2015
"I will be the woman at the bar wearing black," I texted her from the Oyster Bar at Grand Central. Tongue in cheek.

And to affirm my dry wit, I glanced around. Yep, there were five of us there. All women. All in New York black. De rigueur.

I was meeting a fellow New York Aussie for a drink. We'd met on Facebook, and had never met in the flesh.

My phone beeped and I checked the message, "I am wearing black too!" said the little pixels in their blue bubble. Words of innocence. Was I meeting an ingénue? Not a good sign ... but I am of a forgiving nature. Just ask anyone.

It had been a month of weirdness. Starting with good old Bob Dylan appearing on the front of AARP magazine. For non Americans - AARP is a magazine for old people. They start sending it to you when you turn fifty, and you hide it under cushions so that no one will know. Until you get older and iPads are invented. Then you can opt to receive it electronically and dump it in the virtual trash can.

What was Bob doing on the cover of AARP magazine? Advertising his new album of Frank Sinatra covers no doubt. Weird.

Weirder still my tax consultancy CPA place. My "preparer" there was a woman. Normally OK. In the past she has answered calls promptly. But this year she was proving to be elusive. I had paid $3,000 to have my city, state and federal returns prepared. I expected service.

When I at last got on to her she said she had been busy "in labor". She kept promising to have something ready and didn't. She told me that she was doing my returns "in between feeds".

Now I am all for women being able to work when they have young children. But this was getting ridiculous. Plus I didn't want to be responsible for a babe in arms having to rush its dinner. I felt guilty and annoyed in turns.

After three weeks my patience was exhausted. I phoned the company direct and asked the receptionist, "Can you please put me on to someone who is NOT lactating?" She giggled and put me on to someone who didn't speak English. Not really, but it makes a good punch line.

Nearly the end of the month, and I was meeting a male friend for dinner. To understand how the following could happen, you need to know that many New York restaurants are lit only by candles. We are into being green here. Ever conscious of the environment, no electricity for us if we can help it!

Actually I think the restaurants are badly lit so you don't pass out when you see the check. My friend and I, we split the bill. I had been hoping he'd pay. Still ... as I said, I have a very forgiving nature. We both put our credit cards on the check and the waiter picked them up, processed them and returned with the two cards and two receipts.

I took a cab home. Paid by card. Went out to eat again. Paid by card. Friday came. Ate out again. Paid by card. But this time I glanced at it while I was putting it back into my wallet. It had someone else's name on it. It was HIS. The dinner companion from three nights back.

I called him when I got home. Told him I had his card and to please look in his wallet. Sure enough, he had mine. "Have you used it?" I asked. No he had not. "Well I have used YOURS!" I crowed.

He told me not to worry about it. "Go and buy yourself a hat at Saks," he said.

A hat? At Saks? I imagined a post-WWI style one, with a wide brim and roses.  Or feathers maybe. Something Lady Mary would wear in Downton Abbey. What century was he in? A hat from Saks? Well, just maybe.

Maybe I'll buy one tomorrow.

I think I'll get it in black for next time I meet someone at the Oyster Bar.