Monthly Archives: June 2006

Pick Up The Pieces

More sunshine! Actually woke up to what sounded like a freight train going through a railroad apartment. Crazy monsoon weather, with very high winds. Didn’t need an alarm clock to wake up, the storm and a headache did the job. Bill was at his folks last night, which left me with a big empty bed to stretch out in. The headache was strong enough to make me think about staying home, but two gel caps took care of that.

I jumped in the shower, reheated some coffee and decided to wear blue jeans to work. Seems like they would be the only things that would hold up against the elements. I sat at the computer, after having breakfast, reading the emails, when I noticed I had a reply from an email I sent to Joe Mardin, Arif’s son. I sent my condolences on Tuesday, just hoping that I could express my sorrow to Joe and his family. I took a chance since I wasn’t sure whether or not he had the same email address.

Joe thanked me in his return and mentioned that there was a reception for his father at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home on the Upper East Side. I was definitely going to be there. I realized that I couldn’t wear jeans to a reception for Arif Mardin. This required a suit and tie. I was fine with that, despite the humidity, the temperature and the monsoon. I put on a navy blue pinstriped Ralph Lauren suit, a white French cuff tab collared shirt, a nice silver and black checked silk tie and the old stand by, black OTC sox, thick and thin style with rubber soled dress shoes to take handle the rain.

I walked out into a drizzle, which was a torrential downpour merely a few minutes earlier. It required the use of an umbrella on and off again. One thing I can’t stand is using an umbrella when you don’t really have to. But then again, I was wearing a nice suit, going to a wake and didn’t want to look like shit at the end of the day. I took my time, not the usual hustle, trying not to overheat and sweat through my suit.

Of course if I walked an inch at a time I’d still wind up soaked, more from the sweat than from the rain. I got to the Path train and stood against the wall of the train, trying to get the maximum effect of a faint air conditioner. Got off at Ninth Street, walked down Sixth Avenue to Carmine, bought a bagel and made it into the office a little later than usual but still before anyone else. Luckily I had an extra T-shirt stashed away so I was able to change that. It made a difference. No one wants to sit in a sweaty t-shirt all day.

The office does have a strong air conditioner so I was cooled down considerably soon enough. Of course people started coming in and seeing me in a suit and tie wondered what was going on. I explained quite a few times that I was going to a wake. I needed to explain who’s wake it was and as I got into detail about Arif Mardin and his life I started getting choked up.

The day went by neither fast nor slow, just happened at it’s own pace. I made plans to meet Bill after work on 86th Street and Lexington Avenue so we could go to the funeral home together. I walked across town so I could catch a train uptown, once again taking my time. It was a lot cooler after work than it was in the morning, or maybe it was just me.

Got off at 86th Street and Bill showed up minutes later. We walked to the funeral home and the wake was on the fourth floor. As soon as the elevator doors opened and we got out, I ran into Gloria Gabriel, Arif’s former assistant. She looked good, but wasn’t doing so well. It hit her hard. She inherited Arif’s position at Atlantic after they forced him to retire. It was a position she didn’t want but she took it anyway more than likely with Arif’s blessing. She couldn’t deal with the grief and was leaving and I kissed her a hello and goodbye.

I saw Joe and his sister Julie and was able to chat with them for a few moments. Arif’s best production, those two kids. I’m sure he would agree. Joe and Julie’s mother, Latife was there surrounded by family and friends. I’ve been through the scene before of having to host a wake. So many people milling about, trying to help out as much as they could and then after the funeral they’re gone and the family is left all alone. I offered my assistance with anything Joe and Julie might need, even offering to help Julie with her upcoming art show.

I saw Barry Bongiovi and Donna Klopfer from my days at Right Track. Nice to see them still in touch with the Mardin family. They both looked good, and I always had a crush on Barry.

You can only stay at a wake for a short period if you don’t need to, so Bill and I said our goodbyes, with me offering any assistance to Joe if he needs it. He’s a good man and I’d be glad to help out in anyway that I can. We walked out into the humidity and stumbled over to the downtown trains taking our time. Karma paid off some dividends with the trains we needed waiting for us at the platforms.

They’re flying Arif to Turkey for his burial next week.

Wah Wah

Hey, how are you? Good morning. My you look great. That’s a nice top. Not everyone can get away with horizontal stripes but wow you sure can. Hey how about that World Cup? Isn’t that something? I love those shoes. Isn’t it a beautiful day? Oh I know it’s muggy and humid and about to start pouring at any minute, but hey! At least it’s not snowing!

That’s how I have to speak at work. I don’t have to, but it’s preferred. Apparently looking at someone sideways can be misconstrued as menacing. So I look at various people straight on, eyes forward. It’s an act, but an act that pays and it beats having to wear a banana costume handing out flyers on the street. It beats joining the armed forces and killing or being killed.

I do my usual do, just want to get through the day with as little stress as possible. I am more visible now, I say hi to everyone and smile smile smile though the day. The UPS guy, Isaiah is a Rasta and I slip into some patois when I see him. Today Isaiah was doing his rounds dropping off packages and we were chatting briefly when Felicia sidles up. Isaiah leaves and Felicia says, “You know, you should be more like how you are talking to the UPS guy”.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “You know, you just put out this positive energy when you were talking to him, you filled up the room with it.” Felicia replied, “You should do that more often.” I said, “Well I have been like that all day yesterday and today.” Brilliantly Felicia says, “Well now you’re being defensive.” Hmmm. That actually happened.

I was flustered by this and went out for a smoke and tried to call Bill at work. Got his voice mail so I called Juan instead. Juan couldn’t believe the fact that Felicia could say something to me like that, in the guise of constructive criticism and when I respond in kind, being kind it’s seen as defensive. I should never have gone through the looking glass.

I tried to spend the rest of the day under the radar. Smiling and shufflin’ along. I spent some time with a temp who’s been delegated to shredding files in the copy room. I helped her out making up some bankers boxes and told her she should ask to see if it would be alright to wear her headphones for her cd player while she was all alone in the back room.

She was wary, but she went ahead and asked and probably got the look of ‘go ahead. why the hell are you asking me?’ Her name is Shanelle and she fits in even less than I do. She’s black in an all white office. No really, the walls are white, the desks are white, the ceiling is white and the floors are white, and the people are very white. She laughed quietly at my joke when she said she never seen an all white office before. She laughed when I asked her what she meant.

If only Felicia was there. She could’ve told me to be more warm like I was with Shanelle. I admit, I made an extra effort to be warm to her, because she’s a temp and it’s nice to make someone’s experience somewhat pleasant. And I’m warm to her, because no one else would be. She’ll be gone by the end of the week and searching for a new job next week. She’s a good worker and will probably be picked up soon if there are intelligent headhunters out there.

I just remembered my first interview at McMann and Tate. I was of course, a few minutes early and was waiting for my interviewer. The next scheduled applicant after me came in early herself. She was nicely dressed, as I was in my suit and tie. ‘She’s probably a better receptionist than me’ I thought. She was a black woman about the same age as me. No way would she fit in with this crowd. They wouldn’t be able to deal with what I perceive to be a no nonsense attitude. How did I fall into it? Why did they pick me? I’m all nonsense.