Hatcheck To The Stars

I’m thinking about the time I spent working as a hatcheck girl. At a fancy place on the Upper East Side that was a celebrity hang out. With yet another coked out boss.

“CCCCCCranky CCCCCCranky CCCCCCranky” was how he addressed me. One night he was red-faced and sweating, and he said to me, “CCCCCCCranky CCCCCCcranky, you just let the richest man in America hang up his own coat!” Oh boy. This is what he was like when he wasn’t busy hitting on the model he picked out for the evening.

Working with the public was particularly hard on me, because Cranky is an introvert. At times I was standing in a crush of bodies. I don’t know how I stood it. Well, I know how. It was the bag of money I brought home every night.
Besides making good dough, I took advantage of the opportunity to eavesdrop and watch people. Some people were great. Some people were horrible. Some people made you sad.

Some were really amazing. Like the beautiful Asian girlfriend of the TV weatherman. One night when they came in I admired her earrings. The next time she came in, she handed me a box with the earrings in it. “I can’t believe you did that!” I said. “I just wanted you to have them,” she said. I wore those earrings every night and felt like a million bucks.
One night there was a pair of blondes sitting together. They were styled very similarly. Both had frosted hair, long nails, leather skirts, and lots of makeup. But even with all that, one of them was looking well, kinda dumpy. Dumpy was crying. She was telling her friend “I don’t understand why he left. What happened? It came out of nowhere. How could he do this? I was good to him!” Her sobby tirade went on for a good fifteen minutes. Finally, the other blonde broke in with a husky voice. She flicked her cigarette and said. “You wanna know what happened? I tell you what happened. You got fat and took advantage of the situation. That’s what happened.” Ouch.

Another night, a highly sophisticated looking woman came in when it was particularly nuts by the door. She looked at me and asked, “How can you stand this?” “ You get used to it,” was my answer. “No darling. No. You DON’T get used to it. PRINCESSES get used to it.” She was like indignant that anyone was living like this. I loved her. Maybe there was hope in life after all.

A prince came in. A rock star. All the tennis players. Great actresses. A famous actress slash acting teacher came in. I never saw her before in my life. She grabbed me with an iron claw and whispered in my ear in just a slightly threatening tone, “KISS ME DARLING.” I did. Then she smiled and dramatically flung off her mink coat. I was part of her entrance.
A famous actor/playwright who I had admired sauntered in in his cowboy boots one night. The two stewardesses who were a joke to the people who worked there, latched on to him. They were real man-eaters. They wore blue eye shadow. Their eyelashes had so much mascara they looked like doll eyelashes. They lived in leather bustiers. In the winter even. He went to the China club with them and partied. Ewwwww. Do you lose your taste in people if you live on some fucked up farm? Heard later that he got into a drunken fight with a cab driver and started waving a gun around. He really was believing his cowboy persona. EARTH TO ACTOR!! HELLO!!

My favorite encounter ,was the night I was watching a few men standing at the bar. They seemed like Bronx boys. They cupped their cigarettes. They stood like guys who were used to standing around a lot for long periods of time. I decided I had them pegged. I went up to them. I said, “Hey, are you guys cops?” “Hah hah hah,” they said, “No honey, we’re the opposite!”
They were hoods. The hoods used to come in too. Along with the DA and his crew. So the maitre d’ used to get in a sweat trying to give them both tables in the best section but not seat the gangsters and the district attorney’s office near each other.

Once, a reporter I was friendly with came in and said hello. He was carrying a newspaper that announced that one of the hoods had just gotten off in a case against him. The headline was “MOBBY WALKS” in giant black font. I glanced at it and said, “You think they’re trying to say he’s really guilty?” Reporter grabs the guy he is with and runs away. “What just happened?” I thought. The reporter came back and said I’d be lucky not to find a horse head in my bed that night. The guy with him was Mobby’s lawyer.

I took a cab home every night. One night I got a woman. Theresa. She was very chatty. She told me how she hated drunks because they breathe up your nose. Christmas was coming and she said, ” I spend so much time in the car, I decorate the dashboard. I put Santi and his reindeer right up there on the dashboard. I’m in the car twelve hours a day.” (Yes it was Santi, not Santa.) Then she started handing me pamphlets about all the different weight loss programs she was gonna try. “I gotta lose weight, honey. These look pretty good. One of them cleans out your system, it’s either that or the H-bomb.” Months later, I hailed a cab and Theresa was the driver “I remember you!” she said. “Look! Look! I lost the weight, sweetie! Can you believe it?”

One night a customer gave me a box of amazing dark chocolate truffles. I got in a cab to go home and the driver looked like an angry Rasta who wanted to blow up the world. He looked pissed. He would only grunt. I asked him, “Hey, you wanna chocolate?” as I pushed the box through the opening in the plexiglass divider. He looked stunned., “Yea,” he said as he took one. He broke into a beautiful big smile. He looked at me and said, “Wow. I can’t believe it. You broke my bubble. Nobody breaks my bubble!”

1 Response to “Hatcheck To The Stars”

  1. 1 Jimi February 15, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Fasinating. Now if that isn’t a slice of life out of naturalist lit, baby, I don’t know what is!

    Forget acting….write a column.

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