By Amy Phillips Penn

On a Saturday night in New York, I am walking outside a movie house on Lexington Avenue with two friends. Wendy is one. She is tall, New York schooled (Chapin) and in Town & Country and W as often as she drives to and from Southampton, which is constantly.

“I really have a thing about fireman,” she admits, as we near the fire station. Ten minutes later we are playing “Trivial Pursuits” with the entire local fire department. When their supervisor walks in, we’re introduced as family.

Call me “cousin Bridget.”

A society publicist hears about our big night, an escapade that was fire engine red, in his eyes.
“Mrs. Mehle would love this,” he chuckles, as he is concocting a mental column item for “Suzy,” the New York Daily News’ society columnist.

We spell out “off limits,” and agree to model for his charity fashion show of the month. I’m not “cousin Bridget,” for naught.

Another Saturday night, and I’m a passenger. Mariel is driving up town. We’ve been friends forever with a slight interlude, when she was shipped off to a European embassy where her father was Ambassador.

When she and her brother got bored, they’d hide the butler’s glove. That’s glove, singular.

Dinner was served with one hand behind the butler’s back.

We’d been to the Rainbow Room to show her guest, a ski instructor from Utah or Colorado, the best of New York at night. He’s in the back seat and has not said word one, since.

A police car drives by. The policeman in the driver’s seat looks at me and I return his glance. He is young, all-American Ivory soap-scrubbed, with a bit of “dare-me,” in there, somewhere.

“He’s hot,” I say to Margot.

Still, mum in the back seat…Bo-ring.

Margot shifts the Volvo into a keep-up-with-me gear, as she zooms tailgate to tailgate with the police car.

“She thinks you’re cute,” she yells at him, pointing at me.

“Who me?” I’m desperately trying to disappear under the front seat.

With an implied “see ya,” Margot speeds on.

The police car roars, then flashes its macho police siren…the whole Dragnet shtick… and pulls us over.

Mariel gets out of the car, her mother’s lynx coat screaming, “there are more of me in the closet.” Even New York furs have attitude.

“I’m arresting you,” he says. He’s serious.


“No, says Mariel,” I’m arresting you,” she laughs.

We went out with him and his partner once, to P.J. Clarke’s for burgers.

When they politely escorted us home, I asked if he could break my front door down.

“Go ahead and impress me.” We’ve all seen that one on TV.

Good thing the key worked.

I said it was a “one timer.”

Yet, another Saturday, I’m working, sort of.

A publicist takes me into a local East Side bar, middle name: Ordinary.

“Guess who comes in here?” Then he whispers a well-known social name.

“I thought about calling Mrs. Mehle and letting her know that you- know-who comes in under a made-up name.”

I hope he doesn’t try this one out. Mrs. Mehle and the pseudo name’s grandmother are close friends. She and I went to school together. I call her when I get home, give her the heads up and add that her new made-up name suits her… not.

No mention in “Suzy,” but she soon manages to change last names again, without remarrying.

Silence is platinum.

James is the best dressed homeless man in New York. He resides around Carnegie Hill. Neighbors give him clothes: Polo, Guccis, Brooks Brothers… no slouch, James.

“I saw your mother kissing a good looking man, last night,” he tells a local preppy teenager.

“And it wasn’t your father.”

New York, your secrets know no bounds….Even the sidewalks have something to say.

Featured photo courtesy of Zimbio

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