the lost man chronicles
the daily chronicle
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Vanity Fare, cont.
At the end of the evening, after the obligatory round of goodbyes and pleasure-to-have-met-yous we all headed for the exit where we received the standard swag bag. The black canvas tote-bag included Sponge Bob toothpaste and toothbrush, a special edition of the Vanity Fair March issue co-edited by Tom Ford, Tom Brokaw’s memoir, a sample of Li-Lac chocolates, a box of Estée Lauder pleasures perfume, and Zagat’s 2006 Guide to America’s Top Restaurants.
As I was about to exit of the hotel I was stopped by an attractive blond who asked “So what are you going to do now?” Her forward approach took me by surprise a bit, but my easily persuaded ego nudged me, pushed me really, into her Venus trap.
She explained that she had noticed that we had attended the same event, pointing to the bag strapped across my shoulder with her long snow white fingernails, and continued to lure me by saying, “My girlfriend and I want to go to Cipriani, but we don’t want to go alone. They’re having a Pink Panther premiere party over there, and so we need some company.”
Immediately I began calculating in a mad tizzy the risks and lurid possibilities—“Fairly attractive blond young girl with an accent baiting me, much more attractive girl on the couch waiting for me to take the bite, I just happen to be free for the night, and I’m dressed to the nines and feeling quite dashing….Alas, I have no money, I’m already taken and quite committed, who knows what these women are really up to, and besides, I’m not the wealthy man that these alluring dames are probably betting that I might be.”
Meanwhile, as I’m swooning in the heat of this moment, the girl keeps asking me all kinds of questions to keep me off-balance and vulnerable.
“Where do you live?”
“Upper East Side,” I lie, surmising that she doesn’t really want to hear the truth—“Bloomfield, New Jersey.”
Of course, she replies, “Oh, yeah, me too,” and for a moment I fear she’ll uncover my ruse.
Luckily though, she moves on and asks for my business card.
Again, I bold-face lie and tell her that “I’m all out,” the truth being that I quickly assessed that she probably wouldn’t be interested in a measly communications manager. For a mere split-second of a moment I consider giving her my photographer’s calling card, which has my trademark photo of a pair of hands holding up a happy face, but I just as quickly figure that she would likely burst out laughing, and that I would feel like a sad and stupid party clown.
Besides, I was quickly coming to understand that she wasn’t interested in getting to know me or any semblance of the “real” me. No, I construed that what she really wanted to see was a card that said “investment banker,” “Vice President” or some other title that indicated that I might be able to afford a spontaneously sumptuous evening out in New York City with two beautiful girls in tow.
Surprisingly though, after a pause, she rushed to offer me hers—“Nicola” at Orion Capital Partners. However, after she crossed out both the phone number and e-mail address and wrote others in place of them, I was beginning to suspect that something was truly awry and then suddenly it dawned on me that I was likely being solicited by some high-priced Russian hookers who were taking advantage of the unsuspecting and desperately lonely well-to-do.
The next day I recalled this moment to my good friend Rayner, a producer at Dateline NBC, and he agreed that I had likely assessed quite correctly, for on several occasions during his recent assignments around the country he had noticed and confirmed that there are a lot of Russian prostitutes who hang out in hotel lobbies and bars these days.
Ultimately, I realized that I couldn’t play this game with these women, ‘cause I just couldn’t con them in the same way that they were trying to wile me. Besides, I really wasn’t that interested anyway. So, I said I “had to go” and ultimately ended up using her card to pick out the raw bits of filet mignon from my teeth as I stood in the bus line at midnight to go back to Jersey.
Final Segment: Vanity Fare
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