Last Night I Drank $300 Champagne with a Trump Supporter
“Can you get to 58th and 5th?” Sam asked me.
“Sure,” I texted from the dusty dorm room I was staying in for the night. “Which building? Or what’s the bar’s name?”
“The Plaza Hotel.”
“Oh, damn. I’m underdressed, but I’ll be there.”
The glass cube of the Apple store sparkled in the night as I got off the F train. I passed by Carnegie hall. The guilded lettering on the “TRUMP” building glittered.
The Plaza — Eloise lived here, that’s comforting. But the people around me in the lobby (a room I entered despite the quite sign quietly reminding visitors that it was for guests and members of the “champagne club” only) were not fun. Hyper-wealthy in the least hip way. Women with highlights and furs; ruddy bald men sipping Scotch.
Sam found me at the bar. He looked dapper, but sat stiffly. We debated leaving and finding a real bar. The kind where a gin and tonic doesn’t cost $25. But, alas, we stayed. Sam’s friend Jamie joined us. He went to college with Sam in Kentucky, but moved to the City after graduating. He now works “on the floor” at Burberry where he was befriended by an aging model, “Christine.”
I’m not sure Christine is a real person. She has a home (what I’m assured is a huge home) on Long Island, but spends half of each week in a penthouse suite at the Plaza. Apparently she has a medical condition that requires frequent treatment.
“So she just befriended you?” I asked Jamie, doubtful.
“She came in because she was cold, she needed to buy some things to keep her warm, and we hit it off,” he told me. Of course — drop into Burberry when you wish you’d packed a sweatshirt.
Christine “likes to keep young people around.” She is 34.
I squeezed the lime into my gin and tonic (yes, I bought one, but charged it to Christine’s room). When I zoned back in Sam and Jamie were discussing an acquaintance.
“Giiiiiiirl,” Jamie drawled, “She was a total les-bi-an. A hairy legged, Subaru driving lesbian.” Jamie seemed comfortable enough in his own conspicuous homosexuality. I looked down at my legs and was grateful that I was wearing long pants. “Anyways, do y’all wanna come up? Christine wants to meet you.”
We took the elevator, drinks in hand. Ding. Exit. Walk down the hall.
Christine and her entourage were outside on the balcony when we arrived, which gave Sam and me time to stuff our faces with left over room service. I ate cold pizza. No, I devoured cold pizza. And stale roles. I didn’t touch the half-eaten filet mignon. The pizza was significantly less good than the New Haven pizza I ate the next night.
Sam grabbed a bottle of pink champagne.
“This cost $300!” he choked as he poured our glasses full. I chugged it and tried not to barf.
Tipsy and nervous we climbed the stairs (yes, stairs) to visit Christine.
Christine lounged on her balcony wearing leggings and a scarf (“Tits out” Sam warned me).
She held court. “I love coming here,” cigarette drag, “it’s my own little box. When I need to get away from the husband, away from the children, I always come to the Plahza.”
Fucking Daisy Buchanan with an iPhone.
She drew her long cigarette to her face and breathed deep. Her gaze was directed toward me but the focus was fuzzy. “So, what’s your life story?” Boredom oozed from her statement. It wasn’t a question.
I told her an outline: I grew up in Kentucky — that’s how I knew Sam and Jamie (actually, I didn’t know Jamie before that night, but she seemed happy to think that everyone in Kentucky knows each other). I just graduated from college in Maine. “Which college?” she asked. “Bowdoin,” I told her.
“I jus’ graduated from college too!” Bella (another young person Christine keeps around) slurred. Nobody paid attention to her.
Christine nodded in vague recognition of my recent alma mater but didn’t ask any follow up questions. “And now I’m moving here to work at The Nation,” I finished.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“A political magazine,” I told her.
“Oh, I hate politics,” she exhaled. “Once you get bored with the politics stuff, call me. I know all the people at Vogue. I know all the people at Elle. I know all the people. You should do the fun stuff.”
I assured her I would. I won’t.
“Politicians have been running this country for too long. We need a business man to fix finances.”
She lit a new cigarette from the butt of the old one.
“Finances?” I asked.
“Trump is a businessman. He’ll fix the finances,” she repeated, “and we can’t just be letting everybody into this country. I know the Clintons. Hillary Clinton is the biggest bitch I’ve ever met.”
The finances? Bella poured herself a eighth or ninth glass of $300 champagne. It dribbled down her bathrobe-clad chest as she sloshed a gulp. “My tol’rence has gone up sooo much since graduating,” she bragged.
“I’m just saying, I know it’s an unpopular opinion, I know you all probably disagree with me, but Trump is the businessman our country needs! He’ll fix all of the finances — he’ll just fix them.” Christine was on a roll.
I stood up abruptly as she mumbled something else about the finances.
“I’ve got to go,” I announced.
“Oh, I offended you. I’m so sorry,” she pouted. “Don’t go!”
And, in a moment of courage (or something), I looked her in the eyes.
“I’m not offended. I just think you’re wrong, and I’ve got to go.”
I ripped down the stairs. Sam followed me.
I grabbed a bottle of wine on the bar. It was unopened and looked expensive.
“This looks expensive,” I said. “I’m taking it. I’m fucking Robin Hood.”
I grabbed the bottle opener next to it. Stainless steel. Nice. “What else can I take?” I searched the room. Couch? Too big. Tissue box? Not worth it. I tucked a loose cigarette behind my ear and stormed out, wine tucked under my arm.
The summer air was warm even though it was after midnight. The train was late, of course.