Lois Lowry's Blog
New York, New York
This is the view from the hotel room where I have spent the past two nights. And for the first time in a long tme, i am in New York for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with writing, publishing, book promotion, or play rehearsals.
I came to NY because I had a free round trip ticket on the Limoliner (method of Boston-NY transportation chosen by all Thinking People) which had to be used by a certain soon-upcoming date, as the result of a previously cancelled trip. And for reasons having to do with the date (February) or the Economy (Doomsday), hotel rooms in NYC ---even this hotel room, with this spectacular view of Central Park----are relatively cheap at the moment. And in addition, a good friend of mine, a well-known writer, (whom I will call WKW since I am shortly going to tell a story about her which I do not have her permission to tell) was going to be in NYC, in this hotel, for these two days.
So I came down here a couple of days ago. Night before last I went to see Billy Elliot (for the second time, since I saw it in London last year), thereby effectively eating up almost the cost of my free Limoliner ticket. And yesterday, while waiting for WKW to arrive, I both worked a bit here in my hotel room (hotel rooms are a wonderful place to get work done since there are very few distractions, and the cleaning lady is quite happy when you say No, don't vacuum, it's fine) and then went out for a long walk, during which I stopped and got a haircut and, in another place, a manicure---(the combination costing more than a round trip Limoliner ticket).
Heading back to the hotel, I passed the Park Avenue Presbyterian Church, and slowed my pace to gawk. Something was going on. Many limos. Paparazzi. Plush ropes strung up to form a waiting-line area for very expensively dressed (in black) people holding what appeared to be black-bordered invitations in their hands. A surprisingly large number of the invitation-holders were gay men. Or maybe I am stereotyping on small evidence. It could have been, actually, that they were heterosexual Wall Street lawyers who just happened, on this cold damp Wednesday, to be wearing mink scarves and to be blowing air-kisses to other heterosexual guys.
I am still mystified, because I returned immediately to my laptop in my hotel room and checked on the health and well-being of Liza Minnelli, who seems to be doing just fine.
My friend, WKW, arrived late in the day and we met in the hotel dining room for dinner. Her publisher was paying her way, and I didn't want them to get stuck with my dinner bill (about the price of a one-way Limoliner ticket) as well, so we asked the waiter if he could divide the bill in two and charge half to her room and half to mine. Certainly, madam, he said, and did so. But suddenly WKW could not remember the room number of the room she had checked in to an hour before. Of course the keys, those plastic rectangles with the Morse Code on them, are not marked with a number. Embarrassed, she asked the waiter if he could call the front desk and ascertain the number of her room. He did so, and reported back to us. For some reason I wrote the number down on the back of my dinner receipt.
We decided that we would go to our respective rooms---she needed to make a couple of phone calls---and then she should come to my room to sit and talk a while longer. In the elevator, she got off at 12 and I continued on to 15 and tidied up a bit to receive a guest. My phone rang. It was WKW, on her cell phone, to say that she couldn't find her room, there didn't seem to BE a room 1229. I checked the slip of paper on which I had written the number. 2912, I told her. Ah, she said, relieved, and headed to the elevator.
A few minutes later she called again. Now she was at 2912, but her key didn't work in the door. I suggested she call the front desk. Good idea, she said.
A few minutes later she called again. The front desk had sent someone up with a little machine that would activate keys. They had done their magic, had created a new key for her (warning her that sometimes if a hotel key is near a cell phone, it is potentially problematic). But now she was in her room and about to call her husband and would be down shortly.
But instead of appearing, she called again after a bit. All of my things are gone, she said. My suitcase. My little bag of toiletries. The room is completely empty. I didn't notice until after I had called home.
I suggested she come down to my room and we would proceed from there. And we did. I will spare you the three-stooges scenario but eventually we ended up with a man in a tuxedo coming to my room and presenting WKW writer with a new key---this time to 2312, the room she had originally checked into, the room where her things still were.
Of course her dinner had been charged to a completely different room, as had a phone call. We won't worry about that. Let the tuxedo guy deal with it.
It occurs to me, suddenly, that I can go to the NYT online and check the obituaries* from a few days back. Brooke Astor? Bobby Short.? Everyone I think of is long gone.
* Darn. None of them lists the time and place of the funeral, so I guess I will forever wonder. But here are three possibilities:
After graduating from St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, Md., where her classmates included Gloria Vanderbilt, she turned down a scholarship to Radcliffe to marry Arthur Twining Hadley II, whom she later described as “handsome, but a cad.” ….The marriage quickly ended in divorce, as did marriages to Yvor H. Smitten, a geologist she met on her round-the-world tour, and William C. Musham, a Chicago businessman…..
….Matthew Eliott (who changed his last name in the 1970s) conceded that his mother was mentally troubled but challenged his sisters’ version of events, which painted a picture of their mother as a narcissist obsessed with money, social connections and her weight.
….In 2001 Mr. McGlinn, with backing from the Packard Humanities Institute, began restoring and recording the complete works of Jerome Kern and Victor Herbert, but left after a year, seized with the desire to conduct Wagner, a lifelong obsession.
….From 1939 through 1941, she was a soloist with the Original Ballet Russe, one of the successor companies to Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, and danced on its 10-month tour of Australia during the first months of World War II. ..... Ms. Svetlova appeared in a now-discarded trio, titled the “Mathematics and Natural History Lesson.” She portrayed a pupil facing two women dressed as balding professors who held a compass and a butterfly net