Saturday night Lily and I went up to Westchester for a holiday/housewarming party in Westchester hosted by my friend Manny and his main squeeze Maria. Manny was one of my closest boy friends who was never a boyfriend in college, and I just love the guy. (Yesterday my friend Kara and I were waxing on the merits of having had lots of male friends in college with whom we never actually did the nasty; these are the guys we can call upon now in our 30s to still make us feel young and girly, b/c we never shattered their illusion of us with casual drunk sex).
However. I don't know what weirds me out more, the fact that Manny The Ramen King hosted a very classy wine-and-cosmos houswarming party, with homemade, gourmet-quality food (set out in sterno-heated platters!!!) and a private cigar bar out in his back carport, or that I had to drive to WESTCHESTER to get there. Manny lives in Westchester. Both equally chilling. But wow, what a soiree.
All of my early memories of Manny include a Marlboro light and a 40 of Crazy Horse, so to see him in a sweater vest, chasing my daughter around his three-story condo in Tuckahoe, I had to stiletto myself in the ass a few times to be sure it was real. Time, she's a cruel mistress. Amazing to turn around and be 34 years old and find myself at a party where the same tub of ice holding the cranberry for the cosmos also is piled high with juice boxes all bearing the same candy-colored photo of a bewildered-looking Big Bird. Now that's progress.
Strange also that Manny, who, being the good boy friend he was, diligently walked my drunk ass home countless late nights in college, now actually owned a really good dining room set.
Here we were, years later...Manny, now a salt-n-pepper haired banker, and me, a suddenly swinging single mama, slurping Perrier from a wine glass, muttering about the cost of private nursery schools and the ills of dressing a strong-willed 4 year old in the morning (I WANNA WEAR A SUNDRESS!!!! NO PANTS!!!! RUBY SLIPPERS!!!) Our 22 year old selves would have been ashamed. Actually, maybe not.
Anyway, Lily and I soon found ourselves turning into pumpkins after a good-natured 8 year old came bounding down the stairs to inform me that Lily had peed on the bathroom floor. I put my drink down, managed a weak smile, and made my way to my child, who grinned sheepishly at me from beneath her red taffetta poufy skirt, which was hiked over her head in a failed attempt to get the damp thing off her little body. "I missed the toilet, mama," she shrugged. This is how so many of my parties end these days. At least it's not me who's peeing on the floor now. Oh, I'm just kidding.
So, on our way out, as Maria and I called for her beloved, the door to the carport swung open and Manny and Ollie, another dear boy friend from New Paltz, peeked out in a haze of acrid cigar smoke- a tame, 30something spin on Jeff Spicoli and co. rolling out of a van before class at Ridgemont High.
Manny cried, "Nooo!" with disdain as I informed him of our departure. Cigar in mouth, eyes reddened from either smoke or too much wine or both, Manny completely forgot that the little person standing next to me in the faux fur coat was a 4 year old girl. "You can't fucking leave!!!" Oh, the more we change, the more we stay the same. I smiled awkwardly, gestured down toward Lily with a bob of the head. Catching himself, the civilized banker returned, if only for a moment, until he could return to the smoky male energy of the cigar lounge. My wonderful friend wrapped me in a loving hug, thanked me for coming. Then texted me several times later that night to be sure I got home safely. This is why I know I am a lucky girl. Thank you, Manny. For everything.