It all started with a large bite of a pupusa de queso y loroco (cheese and tropical-vine-flower filling). My cousin discovered a quaint little Ecuadorian joint in upper Manhattan where you can eat a several course lunch for an unheard of six dollars. She takes me to her large apartment, tosses her beret on an oversized, fluffy couch and presses a button on the industrial looking cappuccino machine.
“Life’s better with cappuccino,” she says and collapses onto the couch, crossing her legs and opening a bookmarked page of The New Yorker. I giggle, agree and blow on my hands just in case I’ve contracted frostbite walking around Manhattan in forty degree weather with no gloves.
My cousin’s a writer.
She is so cool.
We talk about the book she has coming out and her babies as we sip out of white porcelain cups with hand painted roses and then chat about Sylvia Plath like we know her.
I’m in New York for the first time specifically to be at my cousin’s baptism because I am the godmother.
Tonight I meet the godfather.
“So once you’re the godmother, Alice, you have to remember his birthday…” She playfully winks at me.
After strolling around SoHo and buying burgundy colored perfume in a French-antique looking bottle, sitting in a Parisian-style café listening to Frank Sinatra and figuring my way around the subway, I see the godfather waiting for me at a small table next to a wood burning fireplace. He’s wearing a suit. I pass a jazz band and am in awe of the man in the black felt fedora playing the upright bass slowly, intently and passionately as if he’ll never play again. I’m in the New York I see in movies.
The godfather holds out my chair and soon after a bottle of Spanish red wine is delivered and served like a present. We toast to being godparents, indulge in conversation and food like royalty and I try to forget how I had to miss a callback (potential paying gig) to take this trip for that silly commercial where the audition required a make-out session.
“I’m going to show you another side of New York,” he says.
The elevator stops on the top floor. We’re greeted by his short friend who wears a ponytail and leads us into his art studio. Molds of hacked up, mangled bodies are piled high. Neon blue and purple bright lights shine on the body pieces, making it appear like an important sculpture in preparation to be exhibited at the Guggenheim. Websites and neon childish looking sketches are projected onto the bare white wall. Molds of skin colored lips that feel like jelly (cause I had to touch it when he wasn’t looking) cover an entire wall.
I still am not too sure what this guy does, but whatever it is, he makes a lot of money doing it.
While I wait for the A train, a man plays his guitar and sings “Stand By Me” as the crowd of hardworking New Yorkers joins in at the refrain.
So this is New York. This is what I’ve been missing.
Alice can be reached at AliceActress@yahoo.com