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Thursday, March 9th

March 9, 2017

Oh, my god. I am so happy. I’m close to saying there are no words to describe just how happy I am, but, for your sake, dear reader, I shall give it a go.

We had a fantastic dress rehearsal last night. My play is fucking fantastic. Charlie is fucking fantastic as Jack. (I knew he would be.) With the help of fantastic director Dave, I think I’m going to be pretty fantastic, too.

It took me until after the opening night performance of A Visit from Miss Prothero last year to post these words on Facebook: “At the risk of sounding immodest, we totally rocked it last night. In the nicest possible, most platonic, most thespian way, I fucking love Charlie. Dave ain’t bad either.” I don’t want to jinx our ability to rock opening night tomorrow, but for today I will say this: I fucking love those guys.

When I was in New York at the ripe old age of twenty, I had a friend named Mike, who was a bartender/comedian/actor in the Drake Room at the Drake Hotel. (Anyone who’s read Rum Do and thinks perhaps Louie was based on Mike, trust me, he wasn’t. Mike and I were just mates.) The bar of the restaurant at the Drake became one of my favourite drinking holes. Not because there was anything particularly special about it as a place, but because I could drink there for next to nothing. (As long as the management saw a bill sitting in front of every customer, they didn’t check to see how regularly it was updated. So, for the cost of my first drink – and a big tip – I could drink G&Ts all night at the Drake.) On slow midweek evenings it was great – drink for nothing and yuck it up with Mike. It was even fine on busier weekend nights. I always had a book with me. If Mike was busy, I’d read. And if some guy decided to hit on me (which guys often do to women sitting alone in bars), Mike would quickly be there to tell the guy to back off, that I was his girl. Not that I was. Aside from anything else, Mike was gay.

Anyway, on Mike’s nights off, we’d often go to a movie or a comedy club or a music club. One week we went to see a band at the Academy that was just starting to get quite famous. I’d certainly heard of them and really liked the couple of songs I’d heard on the radio. The show started. I recognised the first couple of numbers they played. Then they started playing some of their older songs, one of which involved an amazing solo in the middle by the big black guy on the sax. In that moment I fell in love with the sax (and would go on to love jazz because of that), I fell in love with the band (which I already really liked) and I fell in love with that high energy song.

The saxophone player was Clarence Clemence, the band was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and the song was Rosalita.

Last night, still buzzing from the dress rehearsal, I couldn’t stop grinning as I was washing my face. I got into bed to read my book (No Relation by Terry Fallis) and had a hard time concentrating, I was bubbling so much inside. It crossed my mind that there was something I really needed to do this morning, something I haven’t done for a long time. I went back to trying to read my book, still couldn’t concentrate properly, decided it couldn’t wait until morning. So I got out of bed, turned the stereo on, dug the CD out and chose my go to happy song. Then I danced – yes, danced – around the house to Rosalita. Bloody hell. How long has it been since I did that?

It did the trick, burned off enough of my surplus energy to allow me to read. The CD is back on now as I write. In a few minutes Rosalita will come on and I do believe I may have to dance to it again.

Happiness fucking rocks. Enjoy it when and where you are lucky enough to find it.

Okay, dance break over. (Not sure I need the gym today.)

Here’s an extra little story from the Drake Hotel.

Back in those days there was a nasty, crotchety, very wealthy old woman who lived there. I can’t remember her married name, but her maiden name was Rushmore. (She was the daughter of Charles Rushmore, after whom Mount Rushmore was named.)  For some reason, I vaguely remember her first name was Helen, but I could be wrong. For the purposes of this anecdote, let’s say I’m right.

Every night at 7pm Mrs. Mount Rushmore descended from her suite to eat dinner in the restaurant. She had always been a nightmare. Something was always wrong with the food or the wine. Something was always sent back amidst much grumbling about falling standards. Waiters hated serving her. Then one evening a reasonably new waiter named Tony got stuck with her. When he placed her dinner plate in front of her, she said it looked disgusting, that she wanted something else. The appropriate response from waiters to this moment in the proceedings was supposed to be, “Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am. Three bags full, ma’am.” Tony did not say this. Instead he said something along the lines of “Don’t be ridiculous, Mrs. Mount Rushmore. You had the same thing last Thursday and I watched you practically lick the plate. I’m not taking it back.” The roof did not cave in, as some might have expected. At a minimum, the old lady should have had Tony fired on the spot. Instead she glared at him, told him he was rude and impertinent, and then ate the dinner she’d ordered.

I wish I could say I’d witnessed this momentous occasion, but it was before I started hanging out at the  Drake. On evenings when I was perched at the bar before 7pm, I would see her come in, looking positively Edwardian, leaning on her cane. There was always a table reserved for her and she was always served by Tony, who by this time he was allowed to call her Helen. This happened five nights a week. On Sundays and Mondays (Tony’s nights off), she ordered dinner sent to her suite. There was almost always something wrong with the room service meal. There was never anything wrong with the dinners served to her by Tony, who had been known to completely reject her order and inform her she was having something else. She never argued back.

You need to understand that Tony was making absolutely nothing out of this. Old Helen, as she always had, signed for her dinner and never left a tip. I assume that as far as she was concerned, hotel waiters were the same as the servants she’d no doubt once had – and you didn’t tip your servants. I couldn’t believe this when he told me. He just shrugged, said he felt sorry for her. She’d been a widow for decades, she’d outlived all her friends. The only interest her children and adult grandchildren had in her was her will. If a bit of back chat from him was the highlight of her day, it was no sweat off his back.

At some point old Helen had a fall, broke her hip. This was the excuse her children needed to move her into a nursing home. Luxurious, I’m sure, but a nursing home nonetheless. Tony managed to find out what home she was in and turned up uninvited one Sunday. He went back every Sunday until one week one of her kids was there. He was sent away with a flea in his ear. When he got to the Drake for his shift on Tuesday, there was a message from Helen: Monday’s were better. So he went to see her on Mondays. He taught her how to play penny ante poker and had no qualms taking her for fifty or sixty cents.

One Monday he turned up to be told that a few days earlier Helen had had a massive stroke. She was dead. A couple of days later he received a letter from a lawyer, asking him to make an appointment to discuss Helen’s estate. Tony, who’d genuinely felt sorry for and had eventually come to be quite fond of the old broad, went to the lawyer’s office (on Park Avenue, no doubt). Helen had left him five million dollars. Her brats wanted to contest it, but the family lawyer (who was also quite fond of old Helen) talked them out of it.

Tony was last seen heading for the Caribbean.

 drakehotel

Bollocks. Just went on to Google to see if I could find a photo of the Drake Room or of the hotel itself and discovered the Drake was demolished in 2007. It has been replaced by a high rise block of condos built by some fucking developer. (No, not that one.) I did also find a fascinating article about the hotel’s history.

Guess I won’t be going back for one last G&T.

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One Comment
  1. krysross permalink

    Lovely story.

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