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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Compassion is Always Welcomed, Whatever the Source

Not sure of my reasons I separated from my wife for a trip to New York City years ago to decide what the next move would be. Once in the City I called an old college chum with whom I had been in touch with over the years. Through the years we had invited him over for dinner and to spend the weekend with Callisto and little Io, our beloved pets for which he had a special fondness.

I told my friend Gio that I was in town for business and would he like me to drop by and get caught up. Gio, usually very hospitable hemmed and hawed and repeatedly turned me down, very politely, of course. How strange of him to suddenly turn off his friendliness when he always used to chime in via yahoo messenger frequently when I was online. We decided that we'd meet the following day at the Van Dyke Cafe in Soho and take it from there.

Hearing some female laughter in the background I later decided that Gio was tied up and couldn't say very much. Later that evening when I suspected he'd be in, and his guest gone, he'd logged into yahoo messenger, but I had logged in invisibly on purpose. I took my laptop with me to make sure he'd be at home and thought I'd give good old Gio a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant as the case may be, by showing up and bringing over a bottle of Cold Duck (I was a drinker then, I no longer drink.) We had that kind of relationship that allowed us to surprise the other and later offer apologies for having done so.

When I arrived I was greeted by Enrique, an engineer friend of Gio's whom I had only heard about. The room was full of about a dozen people. A motley crew of men, two women, Latinos and others. The music seemed to stop when I walked in which I thought odd since from outside the door it sounded like all were having a lot of fun.

Except for Enrique and Abdul most of the other guests were strangely distant and even impolite. I was thankful for at least two friendly people at this event. It was a going-away party for the two ladies, I think, who were overdressed it seemed to me.

The evening got more and more complicated and icy until I was subjected--much to my surprise--to some particularly offensive comments from one of the ladies, the blond. I suspected that--based on that type of comment--she was no lady whatsoever. At least not the kind of decent and cultured woman that I was used to when we entertained at home.

After she'd had one too many drinks she leaned up to me while I was distracted with my first drink and to my total shock subjected me to an invasive and improper physical gesture which caused the drink to explode from my hands and onto the tile floor. So humiliated was I in front of the other lady, my friend Gio and others that I reacted almost impulsively and slapped the woman--evidently too hard as it caused a tooth and some blood to jump out of her mouth and into a guest's drink.

Of course, I was aghast at my behavior and apologized to her, my friend and everyone present. Gio quickly ushered me into the bedroom as Ms. Darling, it turned out her name was, was given first aid by Miss Violet, the other lady present.

Once in his bedroom I apologized again, and Gio explained Ms. Darling's actions and her particular situation. He said not to worry too much about her teeth as they had been falling into her food, etc., and needed the services of a good dentist and soon. The other bit of information he shared with me about her, stunned me a bit more and I quickly had to ask Gio to get me another drink and some Valium if he still had some. He complied with both requests, but then we both realized how unwise that combination was, after the fact.

Once downstairs I was ready to exit as quickly as possible when a new voice jumped in front of the door and said, "not so quick, buster." He had been told about how I had knocked out Ms. Darling's tooth. Evidently he had not been told what precipitated the slap and I could tell his temper was rising with every passing minute. To my surprise Gio and no one else came to my rescue as the man started to poke me with his finger and lectured me about proper behavior at parties. It seemed others knew what his temper was like and tried to talk him out of whatever he was planning. All to no avail as he now had started cursing at me and rolling up his sleeves.

I had no idea that a surprise visit to my friend Gio would turn out this way and I had to think quickly as to flee or fight. I only saw the fire escape as an option, but wasn't sure if I could distract him long enough to try to make it out the window and onto the roof or downward to the ground. Sensing that this altercation would end badly for all concerned to my surprise Ms. Darling threw herself between us, wrenched us apart with her white cocktail dress now marred with her own blood and shouted at him, as the anonymous friend was almost in another dimension by now, that it was her fault and that she got what she had coming to her. I apologized to her again and she said not to even mention it again.

Fortunately Mr. No-Name backed down and I was able to make a normal exit out of the apartment. Hopefully, never to return again.

Disclaimer: Incidentally, one of the two photos in this post is of Ms. Ultra Violet who in her prime was a Warholian superstar. I actually met her when I and fellow choir members, sang on one track of her only record album. I have never had the privilege to be in a modern recording studio again. I had one chance to pick up the album in question 20 years ago in an East Village used-record shop but had no money on me at the time.

The other photo is of a lady who really did have a tooth that fell into her food as she waited on tables when not performing in her art film events. I am still delighted that I had my brief brush with an avant-garde film-set "Factory Girl" at such a young age.

Authorial privilege enabled me to fuse together strands of two personal first-hand experiences with elements of a decades-old plot from an off-Broadway play. Kudos to Mart Crowley for his ground-breaking play.

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