Living the 70’s Dream

My sister knew everyone in New York. Every couple of weeks she would have a dinner and she would always invite me. I never thought about it at the time but now, looking back, I realize what a generous thing that was.

When I was invited to one of her dinners I felt slightly sick, incredibly lucky, and completely shy.

Sometimes we would go shopping before these events to a special section in Bloomingdale’s where they had amazing designs from a young London woman who created costumes which were perfect for my sister. Generally, they were dresses that extended to the ground and when you lifted your arms in them cascading waterfalls from each arm in colors one had never really seen before fell around you.. In fact, I thought my sister looked like  a glamorous bird of paradise.

I loved  these shopping trips. I wouldn’t go in the room with her because that would’ve ruined it for me. I sat outside instead on a bench and waited for  her reveal. It was always extraordinary and we always knew right away which one was going to be the right one for the night.

I wore the same outfit pretty much to all of her dinners. Jackie Rogers was a designer at the time who had a shop on Madison Avenue and I had spent way too much money on a black chiffon pleated skirt that was slightly transparent. I would wear the skirt with whatever black top I happened to think looked good that night. The best part was getting into the taxi on my way to my sisters and saying “ 7 Gracie Square, please!”

I thought it was the most glamorous thing in the world and surely the taxi driver must realize I was a very important person to be going there.         

Once I got to her apartment and she opened the door which she always did And I could hear the hum and buzz of the party within.. I knew what time she would be serving dinner so I always arrived about 15 minutes prior to that time because in doing that I wouldn’t have to spend too much time making small talk which was not my strong point.

My sister would always introduce me to whoever she thought would be fun for me to talk to. One night I met Fran Leibowitz, George Plimpton, and Erica Jong. I felt as if my lips were frozen and certainly I couldn’t have had much of a conversation with any of them but just being in their presence was probably the coolest thing I could’ve imagined.

In those days everyone wanted to have fun. It didn’t really matter what you said or thought but if you laughed and had motion in your thoughts people adored you. Consequently I think I was adored at least by some of my sister’s guests.

It was the first time in my life I actually thought I was interesting. In the 70’s going out meant going out! We got dressed up. We took makeup seriously. We read Women’s Wear Daily and tried very hard to have big hair, beautiful dresses, and a lot of fun and we did.

I remember going to El Morocco which was a night club on 56th St. and the east side with various girlfriends and what I loved most was the staircase entrance. You showed up at the front door and Bart, the doorman, who was always wearing a top hat, would open the door for you and show you immediately to the elevator.

The elevator would take you to the second floor where the ladies room was and you could check your makeup for the 20 billionth time that night. After you exited from the ladies room there was a grand staircase descending  in front of you. It was also mirrored on the right hand side to reflect the entire room of people who were dining or drinking. As you descended you knew that all eyes were on you whether for a second or longer. It was the most thrilling experience of my life. Don’t forget, I was all of 22 years old.

Bart, the doorman, often intervened when men became too amorous. I remember one night when my sister and I were going back to her house and one of our admirers wanted to come along with us in the cab. Neither my sister nor I seem to be able to be forceful enough to stop this however Bart took it in stride. It was quite exciting needless to say.

El morocco had been around since my parents were dating and was the most glamorous place people could go. There were black and white zebra skin banquets and palm trees with white feathers hanging over them. It was very important to be seated near the dance floor so you could see everybody and everybody could see you. I was never a Studio 54 girl. El morocco was the place for me. The music was amazing and the food, forgettable. The lady in the ladies room knew everything about everyone. If you were smart you would give her a good tip. Otherwise she might tell people things about you that might be true but weren’t pleasant.

Tonight I have been reflecting on how much fun that time was. The 70’s were a great period. The music was great, the parties were great, people were light hearted and wanted to just flirt and have a good time.

I was saying to my sister tonight how much I appreciated her support and friendship during those years and how it had made all the difference for me in my life. I am so grateful for all those memories of her apartment, all those interesting people, the food, the wine and the ambiance. I felt safe there.

 I felt like nobody was going to say anything mean to me and everyone was going to protect me. She was the perfect older sister. Without sounding sappy, she was good to me. I don’t think people enjoy life in the same way that we did then in today’s world. Even when Covid leaves I don’t think young people have as much fun. It’s too bad.

It’s too bad because in those moments you could forget anything that was going on in the world and just listen to music, listen to the beat, look into the eyes of some interesting person and have a wonderful night.

I Fall in Love Too Easily

I fall in love easily if the man

is famous,

or good looking,

or rich.

Not only do I fall in love but I think the man

is better than me and I feel unworthy,

rough elbowed and potato lumpy,

so I want them more.

(They will never love me wanting so much).

I create imaginary lives with

men and in the life

I have created

they never seem as in love

with me as I am with them.

(I chose carefully).

Freud would have a very easy

time with me as I would lie on his couch

not having to say one word.

I wish I were Freud. I want a couch.

I am afraid it’s too late.

I may be giving up

the hunt, the waiting and wanting.

The pain, no longer bearable.

The man who will be everything

and I will be invisible. So invisible

his touch will be like a shot of novocain

mixed with curare

and my frozen body finally painless.

I lie still longing.

The Length of Winter

I forgot how long winter is.

It doesn’t extend from November to March

as it should but it’s disobedient and sometimes hides inside a heart and a chamber to the left or to the right and there you are with only a part of your heart functioning because of winter or it’s a fact. You think it will get better but in fact you’re wrong because once something is frozen it’s never the same. Even a hamburger isn’t as flavorful once defrosted. I used to think that people could learn over time that frostbite prevented circulation and thus freedom however experience has taught me that if you let something freeze it can never really be brought back to life appropriately again.

In Love

In Love

So what would do you think if I told you that I had a crush on an artist for 50 years or more? Well, it’s true. Kind of. There’s something about the shape of him that makes me unable to look into his eyes for any extended period of time. Luckily, I only see him every 20 years or so. I find him so devastatingly handsome that I doubt any conversation I’ve had with him has made sense or at least I don’t remember it. It’s not just the way he looks, unfortunately, or I could call myself frivolous, but it’s his absolute genius about understanding human beings and the dark side of life. I know this sounds nonsensical and it’s kind of crazy to think that I could lean into the warmth of this man but I want to and perhaps on my deathbed there he will be reclined next to me, his fingers caressing my left cheek bone, and I, leaning into the warmth of his arm and the feel of his hips and the strength of his hair say to him why did it take us so long? At that point it won’t matter to me if he’s real or imaginary because I’ll be dying and anything I want to imagine will be right there in technicolor next to me. That’s the only good thing about dying: you can produce and imagine something so clearly from this life into whatever you want to happen next. I would be happy to drift on into the next life with my hand in the hair of this man. Just a handful of strength, just a touch, it doesn’t really matter to me anymore if we have a conversation because I really don’t want to know what the outcome would be in reality.I have to admit despite so much therapy I really prefer fantasy. I find fantasy infinitely more satisfying.

The fish never stop hoping

The fish never stop hoping they’ll be put back in the niantic river yet the current drive them down to the ocean and the seagulls grab them and throw them down on the beach disemboweled and still quivering. For centuries now this has happened. For centuries now we keep fighting our own destiny which is what keeps us alive.