One morning, a few weeks back (let's say 4), I inadvertently placed a scotch on the rocks meant for DealBreaker publisher Elizabeth Spiers on DealBreaker editor John Carney's desk. John, who takes his scotch neat, flew off the handle and decided that the only punishment harsh enough, and befitting the crime, would be to send me on assignment to...CONNECTICUT. "The Metro-North train leaves Grand Central Station at SEVEN-THIRTY A.M. Make sure you're there early," he said, his voice booming.
Trying to make this trip sound enticing (/legit), JC offered, "In the last five years, a number of hedge funds have set up shop in CT, so tons of under-thirty, unmarried bankers live in the city and commute up there every day." Seven-thirty in the morning is, in and of itself, totally unacceptable. But when it meant that in order to get to GCS at a time when, frankly, I wasn't even certain the subway was running, those of us whose parents were in Spain for the week and who were watching the house in New Jersey had to wake up at FIVE THIRTY, well it was struck me as one of those situations I'd have to get out of by looking John in, what I kid you not, were eyes the size of saucers, and playing the J-card.
Surprisingly, it didn't work. Carney said he didn't care what "Hebe holiday" I was making up. I was going to Connecticut.
[Bess Levin's trip to Greenwich after the jump.]
Before we get started, a few facticles about Connecticut:
1. Connecticut was one of the Thirteen Colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution.
2. The name "Connecticut" comes from the Mohegan Indian word "Quinnehtukqut" meaning "Long River Place" or "Beside the Long Tidal River."
3. Before he became Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin dreamed of a political post in CT. After the tragic events of January 11, 2001, when the US Census Bureau recorded CT as being the SECOND richest state in the country (after New Jersey), Nagin famously stated that if elected as governor that year, he'd rebuild it as a "bigger, stronger, chocolate Connecticut...leaving the Census Bureau NO CHOICE but to make [them] #1."
4. Connecticut currently has five representatives in the House.
5. Only two people have ever had sex in Connecticut. (It was in the missionary position, and they didn't enjoy it).
6. The Interstate highways in Connecticut are I-95 (the Connecticut Turnpike) running southwest to northeast along the coast, I-84 running southwest to northeast in the center of the state, I-91 running north to south in the center of the state, and I-395 running north to south near the eastern border of the state.
7. Mel Gibson was once pulled over for speeding in Connecticut.
Tuesday, August 8, 5:00 a.m. Boses weren't made to wake
people up at ungodly hours much like the overwhelmingly unsightly
one exhibited here; they were built to run free and spend their days
engaging in carefree, frivolous pursuits, like their other high-end
electronic friends. Ever see a Bang and Olufsen Beovision 4
and think, "Man, that cat could use a shot"? No, you haven't, because
a BOB4 is in a perpetual state of peace and tranquility, never
waking people up before, say noon on weekdays, 2 on weekends;
it drinks, socially, for sure, but it doesn't need that 5 o'clock
cocktail like an overworked Panasonic does. Does this look like the
face of a Bose that doesn't have a care in the world, John Carney?
No, it doesn't. This is the face of a Bose that wants to kill itself.
And you, you Irish curse. I'd hate you if I didn't think that as one of the
few non-Jewish males in my life you could help me spite my parents
by marrying me and tainting their grandchildren with your Gentilean blood.
My brother married a goy last year, and she's one of those
"strong-willed" gals who "isn't going to change for anyone," so
everything pretty much rests on my shoulders at this point.
My Black Friend Wes could conceivably serve as an 11th hour
option but I don't want to get cut out of my inheritance or
anything, I'm just looking to mess with them a little bit,
you know? Anywho, we'll talk about this later.
5:45 a.m. This fine piece of Swedish craftsmanship--
my chariot to for the first leg of the trip--looks none too pleased
with you, either.
6:00 a.m. Caffeine obviously being necessary, I pop into
my local Starbucks. The barista and I got off on the wrong foot
on account of his surly attitude, but he soon earned himself glittering
gold stars as far as they eye could see.
6:11 a.m. Down the hatch. Now we're cooking with gas.
An acceptable level of caffeine coursing through the bloodstream,
we're ready to begin our journey. But the stars have not aligned just yet--
we must wait here for God knows how long, for we are the mercy
of Lady Iron Horse, who we all know too well is a cruel, cruel bitch.
6:13 a.m. New Jersey: Where the Venn Diagram overlap of
people with an interest in Stella and those with one in Tarzan: The Musical
is larger than you'd think.
6:17 a.m. A wise man once said, "John really sucks for making me do this."
6:20 a.m. This pretty much blows.
6:24 a.m. John: What a pr*ck.
6:26 a.m. I wonder if John made it Bed-Stuy okay on his own (more on our daily
trips to Bed-Stuy for "treats," later).
6:29 a.m. I'm worried that Rusty might be taking advantage
of the fact that I'm not there to make sure things go smoothly;
I hope he's not trying to take John for a proverbial "ride."
6:32 a.m. I kind of miss John. (In NJ, many people like to
watch absurdist TV shows in which adults living in the
suburbs smoke marijuana).
6:36 a.m. I wonder what John's doing right now. (In NJ, Joe Torre
stars in ad campaigns for hedge funds. This is as embarrassing as it looks).
6:39 a.m. I wonder what John's think--whoa there, Skippy.
That's never okay. I don't care what time it is.
6:40 a.m. I haven't been up this early in a decade. Maybe two.
6:41 a.m. - 7:02 a.m. Looks can be deceiving: the trek from
Penn Station to Grand Central, by way of the S, is not the roof-raising
time it appears to be.
7:05 a.m. Everything about Grand Central Station is different and foreign;
I start to get butterflies in my stomach (though, quite conceivably, that
could be from the coffee and Adderall) and seriously consider
calling a friend to pick me up.
7:06 a.m. The bathrooms are different.
7:10 a.m. The chairs are different.
7:21 a.m. Even the Hot and Crusty is different!
Grand Central Station "Hot and Crusty" (above) and Penn Station "Hot and Crusty" (below).
7:25 a.m.: I'm scared and want to go home (or at least back to the West side).
However, like Johnny Drama (and those before him), I tell myself to
"suck it up, you little bitch," do so, and purchase a ticket (which,
it should be noted, for posterity's sake, is also different).
7:27 a.m. Chippy (not to be confused with the Blue Shirt, stage left)
is not pleased to have his picture taken by a photog with
brown hair, brown eyes and best known for starring
in her 1997 Bat Mitzvah, or so I glean, from his blood-thirsty,
mostly anti-Semetic glares (So very Connecticut). I put my shutterbug
down for a moment to say "Listen, jerk, I went
to Amherst College. With people named William
Gregory Lockwood IV. Horses and crocodiles were required,
Nantucket reds were second skin. Collars were
checked and starched at the door. You want to go?
I will rip you limb from limb, kemo sabe."
7:29 a.m. The 7:29 Metro-North to Connecticut is a lot like
the 6:20 Midtown Direct to New York. In that it makes me want
7:31 a.m. I take a seat behind this fellow and try and
listen in on his conversation with what appears to be
a colleague across the aisle.
I shit you not:
Him: How was your vacation?
Her: Oh, great. It was really relaxing.
Him: You didn't turn your BlackBerry off, did you?
Her: Yeah, you know I actually did.
Him: Wait, seriously?
Her: Yeah, I really did.
Him: Oh my god, but, like, seriously? What was it like? Was it amazing?
I make the executive decision to switch seats, based on
my fear of being sucked into their Cult of Investment Banking Freaks vortex.
For a second, I think this friendly face will make some
room against the wall for me but apparently five thousand years
of shared history means nothing to some people. Which I'm okay
with, as long as he's cool with the reality of the fact that he's not
going to be written into the Book of Life.
Continuing to look for a seat, I note the diverse reading
selection among the Metro-North riders.
Then, as if from nowhere, something I can work with!
I'm a little gun-shy after my experience with BJ (Bad Jew)
but I throw caution to the wind and decide to introduce myself to this
friendly face. Much to my surprise and delight, "Rich" takes a liking to
me instantly. I explain to him that he "is the first person on this trip"
whose "reading material I'm comfortable with." He smiles at me warmly
and says he's glad he could "make me comfortable." Then I have an idea--
"how would you feel about taking some pictures of me
recommending a few television programs for you to enjoy this evening?"
I inquire. Rich agrees immediately and I sit down next to him and
prepare to get to work. (I also take a soulful moment to ruminate on
the fact that Rich and I will be good friends, nay great friends, long after this whole
affair is over).
Disaster! Rich does not have digital cable! Not used to working
with such limitations, I start to panic and feel myself begin to waver.
Sensing my hesitation, Rich assures me that we can work around
this handicap. "Don't do it," I say to myself. "It's more trouble than it's
worth, B, you know this as well as I do." But Rich starts
to take on a Tiny Tim role in my mind and, having always
wanted to help out a small crippled child, I decide that so help
me God, I'm going to do right by this boy, basic cable and all.
Here's what we came up with:
Walker, Texas Ranger
I'm pretty pleased with my bout of charity but then I
start to get uncomfortable in the presence of someone of
Rich's stature (or lack thereof). I excuse myself and continue on my way.
Connecticut: Also a fan of absurdist TV shows in which
adults living in the suburbs smoke marijuana.
Connecticut: Also not embarrassed by ads in which
Joe Torre pushes hedge funds (or not embarrassed enough to put a stop to them).
Finally, we arrive. The next train back to the city doesn't
leave for twenty minutes; I need to stretch my legs...
now's as good a time as any to step
into the fifth ring of hell, I figure.
And we're off.
Sends shivers, down your spine, doesn't it?
DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THEIR EYES OR
YOU WILL GO BLIND. THIS IS NOT A JOKE.
Sidebar: who's perfect now Connecticut? Who's perfect now?
Typical unmarked hedge fund office.
I consider blowing its cover by following this fellow inside
--that would show them, wouldn't it?--but I'm distracted by
a horrifying store window next door:
Oh, my God, for the love of God (and this time I mean it),
LOOK AWAY BEFORE YOU GO BLIND. Can you imagine it:
GETTING KNOCKED UP AND BEING FORCED TO NOT ONLY
WORK IN CONNECTICUT BUT TO LIVE HERE, TOO?
Wiping the cold sweat from my brow, I glance at my watch, and
not a moment too soon--it's 8:35: time to catch the train back home,
and mix a "Keep The Good Times Rolling, Don't Let CT Hold Us Down"
cocktail of the Plan B and bleach stashed in my bag.
I vow to never screw up John Carney's
drink order, ever again, and walk at a clipped
pace* back to the station.
*Why I Chose Clipped Walking Over Running.