BACK IN MY school days, there was a girl in this building who threw rather good parties. Even at a decent event, however, one or two are bound to show up that really ought not to have done so, and at one of these parties at 120 East End Avenue just such a person got wildly drunk, seized a half-full bottle of vodka (Smirnoff, I believe) and launched it out the window. As luck would have it, gravity deposited the vessel many floors below, landing right on top of windshield of the doorman who happened to be serving that night.
Now, doorman relations are important in Manhattan (as apartment building owners are quite aware). When Mr. & Mrs. Smith jaunt off to Paris, leaving Jenny at home, and some twenty-odd young lads & lasses show up requesting admittance to the Smiths’ place — the doorman knows all and sees all, and one must ensure that, upon Mom & Pop’s return, he doesn’t tell all.
You can imagine the doorman was quite unamused by a half-full bottle of vodka making a swift and I dare say unpalatable acquaintance with the windshield of his car. That is most certainly an “all bets are off” situation in which one could hardly blame the doorman for mentioning the events to parental authorities. We often identify discretion with silence, but in certain circumstances silence is an indiscretion.
Anyhow, the family in question were moving to Connecticut which left the apartment completely empty for a week in the middle of the summer with the parents already ensconced across the border in New England. Needless to say, this called for an occasion of some joviality and the girl in question wisely decided to keep it a small gathering — a civilized, enjoyable affair, nothing special. “If there’s anything left in the fridge, help yourself,” our hostess pleaded. “Um,” enquired yours truly, “there’s a bottle of Veuve-Clicquot with all manner of ribboned frivolity attached to it.” “Ah, that’s for the new residents. Off-limits I’m afraid.” Pity.
So there we were, enjoying ourselves on a late summer’s evening. My friend M.M. & I decided to plant ourselves by the open window to enjoy the night breeze. I gingerly placed my bottle of Rolling Rock on the windowsill to respond to a question asked by W.M. from across the room only to return to my original position to find it missing. Where the blast did I put that thing? I looked around a wood-panelled, parquet-floored living room completely emptied of furniture and it was no where in sight.
My confusion was quickly ended by the sudden appearance of the doorman, who stormed into the apartment demanding our immediate egress in an agitated manner. It turned out the bottle of Rolling Rock had had an encounter with gravity itself and shattered into a thousand pieces on the sidewalk below. Coincidentally, it was the same doorman who was working the night of the infamous thrown vodka bottle.
Sullen faced and with our tails between our legs, we silently exited the apartment building and shared a mournful moment on the sidewalk outside, examining the remnants of a bottle of Rolling Rock that carelessly took its own life from many storeys above before we swiftly moved along to avoid further stoking the ire of the poor doorman. The festivities were continued elsewhere, but every time I pass 120 East End Avenue, I can’t help but think of suicidal beer bottles.