…a couple of bitches from a round table perspective…or, a bitch at a square desk…

First of all, let me say that I am unusually bitter because another birthday is going to pass during which I am not at the Algonquin Hotel. Those couple of halcyon years when I hied it to New York, alone, and spent a few days pretending to be a Dorothy Parker cohort, lolling away the mornings in the tattily-upholstered elegance of the Algonquin lobby, scribbling in my Moleskin the stories given me by those lyrical-voices-in-my head as they sang the haunting descant of a past that had never belonged to me but which I was – for those few days each year – allowed to borrow, were the very best days of my life.

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I would wander the city, walking for hours. I saw shows, as many as I could. And between these “pretend this is my real life” diversions, I would return to the Algonquin lobby and have coffee or a cocktail. My favorite was the Dorothy Parker; a concoction of vodka, Cointreau, Chambord, lemon juice, and champagne. Much to my horror, the last time I had occasion to visit the Algonquin, that cocktail, the DOROTHY PARKER, had been removed from the menu. I knew then, I had lived too long. When the Algonquin Hotel no longer had on the menu a cocktail named for Mrs. Parker, then the world was not a place with a place for the likes of me.

Soon enough, fears confirmed, the Marriott Corporation bought the Algonquin and closed the Oak Room and redecorated the lobby. Now, fool that I am, I am still on their Facebook friend list and today I am greeted with this horror:

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They’ve decided to create a cocktail called “Mrs. Parker’s Delight.” Please. What would delight her would be free room and board and infinite bar credit and the return of her ORIGINAL DRINK YOU HEARTLESS MONOLITHS OF CORPORATE GREED!

It was bad enough when a fellow could no longer find a Schrafft’s in which to eat cheaply and well. When my aunt first took me to the city – I was 12 and terribly sophisticated – we stayed at the ratty Taft Hotel, which I thought was glorious, and ate at Schrafft’s all over the city. Gone. All gone. Which, I suppose, ought to be okay with me. As Helene Hanff said in one of her New York love songs, “Apple of My Eye”;

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“No other city on earth has such a mania for tearing down the old to build the new – which I approve of. My theory is that since New Yorkers mostly come here from somewhere else, they have no interest in the city’s past, they come with big plans for its future. And on a narrow strip of island, you can’t build the future without tearing down the past first; there isn’t room for both.”

Precisely. But, still, while I am all about tearing down and starting anew – he says amidst a life in ruins waiting for reconstruction – there are some things that ought not be screwed around with and on the top of that list is The Algonquin Lobby.

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But, glass half full, right? (As long as it’s half full of slushy Patron Silver.) I can’t go to New York for my birthday anyway. So, I won’t have to see that dreadful lobby re-do. And I can sit here, where I am, (not going) and make my own damn Dorothy Parker, and re-read Helene Hanff (if you never have, you really must – she writes about the New York in which I dreamed I’d live as a child) and while my table may not be round and walking a few blocks won’t get me anywhere near a Broadway theatre, well, there’s still . . . wait. What is there still?

Fuck. Well, there’s still Dorothy Parker.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937), “Comment”

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