Another New York tale: the ABC guy, the invisible piano and peanutsPosted: November 18, 2011
A crowd were waiting for the lift (that’s elevator in American), so I hung back. I get a little claustrophobic in small spaces, so often wait longer to have a lift to myself.
As the second car door pinged open, and I walked in alone, two men suddenly appeared around the corner, and hopped into the lift with me.
The first guy, who in my memory, was wearing one of those Odd Couple golfing outfits (I’m sure he wasn’t), and an older man in grey slacks and a navy blazer.
He had a blended look of Frank Abagnale, from Catch Me If You Can, Tony Bennett hair and the air of a Corleone. He was quite something. He was the ‘ABC guy’ – Abagnale, Bennett, Corleone – and that’s how I filed him away in my mind.
I stared intently at the panel of numbers as the doors closed. Silence, then. “Hey, how you doing tonight?”
At first I thought that ‘ABC guy’ was talking to the golfer but again, “How are you doing this evening?”
I turned, and said, “Oh, are you talking to me?” As he popped a handful of nuts into his mouth.
“I’m good thanks, how are you?”
“Swell”. He said. Swell? “But tired, a little tired.”
“Well, it’s the right end of the day to be tired,” I quipped.
“Have you been to the bar, there’s a pianist.”
“No, I haven’t been in there yet.”
“You should go,” he said, as we arrived at my floor. “He’s quite something and…you never know.”
And then he laughed. The peanuts swirled his mouth around like a wash on spin.
I stepped out of the lift with golfing guy, who was avoiding eye contact at all costs. The doors closed.
As I got to my room, I went to put the key card into the door. Then stopped. What was in the piano bar?
It was niggling me. “You never know” what?
I turned on my heel, and walked back to the lift.
I half expected to see ‘ABC guy’ in there but it was empty. I wandered through the lobby looking at the girls in their diamonds, the stragglers from the banking conference and the guys in suits. I could sense a faint pre-Christmas party vibe. It took me back to my twenties when I knew I’d be out every night in December, wearing a different dress to every event.
The bar was still busy but there was no piano, and certainly no pianist.
I did two circuits just to make sure. A few guys looked at me as I sauntered past the second time. Did I look hookerish?
But the piano, the piano. What had he been talking about?
I left the bar and asked the girl on the front desk if they ever had a pianist play there.
“Not since I can remember, but then I’m kinda new around here.” She had a Brooklyn accent.
I resisted the urge to share my Fran Drescher impersonation.
“This guy in the elevator (see, I change my vocab to make it easy for you all), said that a pianist had been playing and that I should check him out.”
She looked at me for a moment and said, “Not tonight ma’am. But at least you know for sure.”
But as I walked back to the lift, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I did.