Madison Avenue. Madison is where ladies walk a certain walk with purpose, Motorola attached to limb, wearing wool suits from Armani and delicate tanks from Cartier. Businessmen that are too important for their own pants walk fast with tanned faces and leather loafers from J. Crew. Tall, glass encased homes of corporate silos frame and shade the sidewalk during daylight. Dwarfed trees starved for light above are lit up at night with neon bulbs of white and yellow. The sidewalks are never empty on Madison Avenue. They are clean and polished, it seems, with some sort of sparkle. Tiles line storefronts, restaurants and offices in colors to make each entrance unique and grander than the next.
I raise myself above the heat of my bath and suck in oxygen from the steam-filled air. Reflecting back on last night, I’m frustrated. So I’m lonely. Sade wafts through the speaker wires up the walls and down the hall, echoing her enchanting sound to my tile-wrapped retreat. A thick blanket of sleep over my precious lobes is faintly diminishing my world. Slowly I begin to wake and my eyes begin to widen. Water wets my lashes, making them longer and pretty but dark circles plague the picture as well.
Back to last night.
Dreamily, I eye the mirrored buildings of gunmetal gray. I feel like the only child left in a sea of untouchable adults. I roll my silly economy car from college down the 500 block to find a place to park. Madison Avenue doesn’t have lots or street parking for mere mortals. Madison has valet, the equivalent of the poor man’s parking garage. I pay too much to have a nice man with broken English park my car next to a z3. I wish I could afford to be on the waiting list for that one.
I go out into the night. The crescent moon can’t be seen tonight because of Madison’s towering walls but I know it’s there and miss it. The sky is a dark navy, lit from the life below. 503 Madison should be on my left. My stomach growls with a nervous hunger as a pacific breeze fluffs my hair. My curious eyes spy the restaurant across the street and wonder what the evening is to become.
A blonde-streaked socialite draped in a Chloé top and tight pants brushes past me, leaving a jasmine scent in her wake. She bounds into Ecolodge, probably to meet up with her future husband twenty years her senior. I have no choice but to follow her because I’m meeting Brian inside. I’m anxious to have a date with one of the elite. Jennifer Lopez belts out how love doesn’t cost a thing over the system and I smirk nastily. I wonder how much love costs for that blonde? I walk over to the bar with a wobble almost undetected. My Bebe heels from Nordstrom Rack are protesting my simple feet; my simple feet have equally rejected the three-inch sling backs. Madison Avenue is not my normal habitat.
“Can I get you something?” the very well groomed bartender eyes me. He wipes down a circular spot in front of a metal barstool and nods for me to sit. “Cutie?” he’s asking me again for a drink.
He does not notice this detail.
“Gin and tonic,” I say fast, probably too fast. It’s the first thing that came to my head. I try to remember what the drink will taste like but can’t and hope I’m pleasantly surprised. I’d rather order a beer but I wanted to fit in. I spin around on the steel and soft calf leather stool to face the dinning area. Neat tables draped in crisp white cloths line the edge of the main space in twos. The high vaulted ceilings drop crystal chandeliers down close to each table. The dance floor is in the middle of it all and I look up to see a suspended booth with two utterly hip DJs in it. The song flows into another. Lenny Kravitz wants to know if I’m going to go his way.
I am early because I thought I would get lost but Brian is early too. I see him walk in, stop, and then shake hands with who seems to be a tall GM. I turn around to the tap of my drink on the bar. Gin and tonic. I take a sip and feel a stiff hand on my shoulder. I swing around to face him. His khaki suit is so finely tailored I can’t believe how the stitching looks up close. He takes off his jacket to throw it over his arm. Underneath is an understated gray tee shirt. He smiles, says a genuine hello and slides onto the stool next to mine. The bar-back immediately brings him a drink golden in color. Damn, I should have ordered bourbon.
“They know me here,” he says answering my raised eyebrows. “My table will be ready in five,” he says looking me up and down. His table? I rack my brain and try to think of some sort of open-ended, witty question for him. I fail and let the loudness of silence engulf us. So much for being upbeat and over my shyness tonight. I look down at my drink and think, why doesn’t he have anything to say either? He who owns a multi-million dollar sports club? Isn’t he supposed to be outgoing? I look up to see him talking to both the bartender and the bar-back. Brian introduces us and the three let me in on their joke about fat chics. So mature.
His table is ready and a largely breasted hostess with a few months worth of dark roots brings us there. Three thick candles center the table: one orange, one purple and one green. How very boho.
Brian eyes me up and down as I excuse myself to the bathroom. I walk along the maze of tables and people until I find it. In a posh bathroom like this one, the top notch often fall apart; here we are all women. A white leather sofa rests on one wall and the opposite wall is all mirror. The stalls are past the entrance lounge through another door. A woman in a mesh tank and a rhinestone mini from last year’s Dolce & Gabbana spring collection is sprawled out on the couch. Obviously not getting along with alcohol, she mumbles to herself about Joe and his car. I grab an Evian from the wet bar in the corner and leave it with her.
Back at the table, Brian has ordered for us and appetizers have already arrived. I can’t possibly be the first woman he’s seen as if he’s just got out of prison but he stares at me in this manner. I am shabby compared to the rest of the women in Ecolodge. I have on Levis and a suede halter and know my look will never grace the centerfold of Vogue. He does not notice this detail.
This is a beautiful man who eats before me. “Why do you think I asked you out?” he questions arrogantly with a goofy grin. This whole date is cringe-worthy.
“Shock me,” I say wishing for another drink. His barber shop sideburns and chiseled features are too much.
Last week, Brian asked me out in the grocery store. I know. I was in town on business and had been shopping during some off time. I happened to be a block from Madison and slipped into Manny’s Market to grab a sandwich. He in turn does this everyday. We spoke briefly and then, entranced, he asked me out. I didn’t know who he was but when I told Sasha I had a date with Brian Pentaz, she squealed.
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