I walk towards the new Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District. It juts up into the sky like some sort of alien fortress, its legs straddling a bistro noisy with the sounds of people decompressing and enjoying St. Patrick’s Day. Everyone is taking full advantage of the ability to sit outside and leave windows open. Spring in New York.
The entrance to the hotel strikes me as rather confusing and instead of approaching random doors in front of people I don’t know and outing myself as an idiot newbie, I walk the perimeter of the property looking for some indication of where the lobby is. The whole hotel is surrounded by venues for eating and drinking but there is no obvious sign for an entrance. Getting a vodka tonic in this place would be easier than checking into your hotel room.
I turn a corner and realize that I must have missed the entrance because now I’m walking towards the West Side Highway and that can’t be right. Just as I am about to turn around and admit defeat, I spot a door that has been propped open with a notebook. The open door leads into a random hallway which leads me past a private dinner, almost into the kitchen, then walks me past managers talking about bottles, and finally into the restaurant where I have to move a server out of the way to get to a door that says “Hotel” in small letters. Jesus Christ, this is definitely not the right way in.
Past some towering walls of honeycomb porcelain that is probably plastic and I am in a dark elevator with a bellhop and a woman that isn’t engaging in any form of polite conversation. We stand in silence and I try to imagine what I do when someone is helping me out and I don’t know them. I usually try to carry on some awkward conversation about God knows what. They get off and I hear him say, “Room 505. This is you.” The doors close and I watch an absurdly bright and absurdly strange video in the elevator wall to my right. There is a girl with her boobies out. Hot.
Floor 18 comes soon enough and I walk through a door being held open for me by a man who holds it open when he realizes I am a woman. Chivalry is not dead. I am almost in the Boom Boom Room, but first I have to consult the host. He is wearing a suit and glasses and reminds me of this guy David I know back in Los Angeles but this guy is taller and possibly straight. He instructs me to leave my coat at the coat check and then take a look inside to find my friends.
Everything is dark and angular and within two steps I am confused as to what direction the coat check is in. I turn around to inquire for help and he just points again and says, “To the left.” It’s maybe a foot out of my vantage point. This hotel makes me feel drunk. Every wall is put at an angle that makes me want to give up on living if living is this hard.
Once I hand my coat over, I walk past the host and through more doors into what could be the most beautiful room in New York City. Before I left for tonight, Whitney told me that being inside the Boom Boom Room was like being inside of a trumpet and that it reminded her of vintage Las Vegas – the coke-fueled, Sharon-Stone-in-Casino variety. It is on the top floor of the hotel and it has a nearly 300-degree view of the city. Everything about the place glitters and it is a shame that everyone in this place isn’t wearing fur coats and bowties because that’s what this room deserves.
It is only just after 7 PM and the blue sky is turning inkier while still holding on to the dustiness of the day – nonchalantly moving into night. To the south of the hotel is the river, which is currently a color I would have mashed together with acrylic paints when I was six. Beyond that is New Jersey and even though it’s New Jersey I don’t mind looking at it. In the dark all things are beautiful.
The ceilings are covered with mirrored bulbs that reflect more of the gold of the room in its silver surface. Hanging from the ceiling are midcentury starburst chandeliers that make an admirable attempt to distract from the twinkling of the city outside. The columns are a rich brown that immediately reminds me of the old play areas in McDonalds: the plastic tree trunks where exactly this shame shade. People sit in cream leather banquettes and the cocktail waitresses are cream too with red lips and pale skin. This room makes you feel ugly and insignificant – in a good way.
Eileen is standing by the bar with all of her lady friends and I saddle up to all of them, chat for a moment, and then turn to the bartender – also well dressed in a cream server’s jacket with buttons, the outfit finished with tufts of groomed strawberry blonde hair.
I ask for if they have a Syrah or a Malbec. Unfortunately for me, they don’t. The bartender, however, says that they have a wonderful Cabernet that might strike my fancy or a Merlot that may have what I am looking for. I don’t know if I am actually looking for anything; my knowledge of wine is incredibly limited. I’ve only ever bought a bottle close to $20 twice in my life. My favorite red is actually a chilled red with bubbles for $5 from Trader Joe’s. In other words, I am a low maintenance anti-wino.
I just tell him to pour me whatever is the least dry and he disappears. When he returns he hands me a sample in a large glass and then presents the bottle for me to read. I bend over and pretend to actually read the label and make it look like I belong here but I am only admiring the typeface. Curly script, hmmm, pretty…
After doing a decent job faking that I know anything about wine at all, I drink my sample with Orbit Sweet Mint gum still in my mouth. “That’s perfect,” I tell him as I hand back my glass. Like I give a shit.
He asks if I want to leave the tab open but I’m not a “tab open” kind of gal. One glass usually puts me within two steps of over the edge. “Tab open” to me is a voluntary and open invitation to ruin the next twenty-four hours of my life. I tell him I will just close out the bill now. Before he leaves he says something that I think sounds like $7.75 and I think, holy crap, you can’t get a drink anywhere for that cheap. Eileen whispers to me, “I think he just said $37.75.” I dismiss her with a, “No fucking way.” He comes back, hands me a leather folder with my bill, and I open it. Fucking way.
Thirty-seven dollars and seventy-five cents.
“Gratuity is included,” he says as he leaves me with their rape fee. Gee, thanks. Glad you took that out of the equation for me.
I want to laugh out loud because I had no idea glasses this expensive existed. Literally. I couldn’t imagine going out on any particular evening and spending more on one glass of vino than I do on dinner. Who do I look like? Puff Daddy?
Ordinarily I just buy a glass and then sip on it to be polite and to not have to field questions like, “Oh, you don’t drink?” or “Oh, why don’t you drink?” or “Why are you such a weenie?” It’s just easier to pay $12. But $40…. Each one of my sips is worth just over a dollar, depending on how greedily I drink. I start drinking my wine and start drinking in this room because that is what I am paying for – an expensive Cabernet and million dollar views of a city I only just started feeling like I live in.