herbal tea indulgence
Wednesday, February 18 2004
setting: rural Hurley, Ulster County, New York
Today was the day that Gretchen and I would be beginning our trip southward towards New Orleans. Today, though, we'd only be getting as far as Manhattan. We'd volunteered to help out with a Catskill Animal Sanctuary benefit cocktail event down in the city, and we'd be spending the night in Mary Purdy's apartment on the Upper West Side.
This morning a couple of unpleasant random events conspired to place weights on my mind during the upcoming vacation. One client emailed me to inform me that she'd yet to receive a parcel I'd mailed more than two weeks before. And another called to say he was experiencing a highly unusual network problem that I could solve only by reverting it to the state it was before I did any work on it. I was so worked up about the apaprent incompetence of the US Parcel Mail situation (those idiots have screwed me before) that Gretchen feared it would ruin our vacation. She asked me if I'd bothered to question the post office people, back when I'd mailed the parcel, about when they'd thought it would arrive. Of course I hadn't. Naïvely, I'd made certain assumptions about their competence. I kept storming around saying, "Look, they're the professionals. I'm not a parcel delivery professional. I don't know what questions to ask. I entrust them to know how to get my package to where the fuck it needs to be."
We carpooled to Manhattan with Julie, the office manager at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Also in the carpool was a woman named Gwen. Gwen was 20 years older than the rest of us, but when Julie asked what we wanted to hear on the radio, Gwen said "rap!" as a joke. But Julie didn't take it as a joke. She flipped from public radio to a local hip hop station with a single press of a preset. Soon thereafter we heard Outkast do that song where they rap about shaking it like a Polaroid picture.
The moment we got to the part of Manhattan where the Catskill Animal Sanctuary benefit was being held (ironically, the Meatpacking District), Gretchen jumped out of the car and headed off on foot to scare up a genuine Manhattan haircut.
I was left to hang out in the venue (an exclusive club called Lotus) with a variety of Catskill Animal Sanctuary people, most of whom where almost complete strangers. I don't perform well in such situations, particularly when sober. But I did the best I could, going off with Gwen and some other woman to get sushi in the Chelsea Market, a large, rambling, funkily-decorated indoor mall-type space.
Later Gretchen returned, and she was most unhappy with her haircut. The woman who used to cut her hair (back when we lived in Brooklyn) had been out today, so some other lady had done it and had (according to Gretchen) botched it. The haircut was a little short, but it looked okay to me.
A couple hundred people came to the benefit. They mingled around eating fancy vegan finger food and sipping cocktails (which were also vegan) while CAS volunteers tried to convince them to donate money. I'm lousy at that kind of work, so I mostly handled technical loose ends.
There was a farcical quality to the benefit, since one its organizers (a gossip columnist for the New York Post) insisted on wearing furs despite having been explicitly told not to.
I felt a lot more comfortable after drinking a few cosmos. Everybody seemed to be drinking cosmos, even the straight men. Lotus is that kind of place.
Near the end of the benefit, Gretchen and I found ourselves seated at a table across from a dull (if seemingly well-connected) investment banker. I was getting kind of tipsy, and when he brought up his interest in a painting by a certain famous artist that was being donated to the cause, I boasted, "Ah, I can paint circles around [whatever the artist's name was]." For some reason this boast intrigued the banker, and he kept interrogating me about the sort of work I do. Gretchen repeatedly tried to change the subject to an animal welfare foundation she wants to start, but this guy only wanted to talk about my art, particularly my sculptures.
Julie dropped us off up on 72nd Street in the Upper West Side and we invaded Mary Purdy Central. My excesses these days aren't very different from Mary Purdy's, and I was delighted to have some herbal tea when she made some. When you never drink caffeine, herbal tea comes to feel like an indulgence.
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