Credit Lizzie Skurnick. In our spoiler podcast (coming soon! promise!) she observed the ways in which transportation plays a major role in WHAT THE DEAD KNOW, constantly undermining one character.
Over a twelve-hour period in New York, I was that character. First, there was the taxi ride downtown, to meet two old friends, Lisa Pollak and Chuck Salter, for a late-ish supper of pizza. (Name-dropping like crazy here. Google them, and you’ll find some very impressive stuff.) On Fifth Avenue, my cab braked so hard and fast that my legs flew up in the air and I ended up bracing myself with my feet on the seat in front of me. We were then rear-ended by a town car. Both cars seemed to come through the impact with no noticeable marks and I think I’m okay as well. (Hmmm . . . maybe a little stiffness in the shoulders? Too late to do anything about it now.)
This morning, I received a call at 7:30 that a car was waiting for me downstairs, ready to take me to CBS. When I got outside, a driver waved a sign that was too indistinct for me to read from a distance, so I asked: “Lippman? CBS?” He said yes. I didn’t second-guess him when he went straight on 56th, instead of making a left on Sixth Avenue, but when he started heading downtown on Fifth, I knew something was wrong. “Excuse me, I’m going to CBS.” “No, Rockefeller Plaza.” “CBS.” “NBC. Today Show.” “No, CBS. Early Show. Up by the Plaza. CBS!” “Aren’t you [name withheld, not famous, but possibly a little angry with me]?” “NO!” “But you got in my car! Oh no, this is very bad, very bad.” “But I asked, I said ‘Lippman!’” “I showed you my sign!” “I couldn’t see it! That’s why I asked!” By this time, we had doubled back and were stuck in traffic on 55th. I decided I could make it back to the hotel quicker if I walked. Even with luggage. In four-inch heels. I was right. I was in my car and headed to CBS before the other driver returned.
Oh well. Things went fine at CBS. Hannah Storm gave me a cheery wave and called out “Hello, Laura,” as if I were an old friend – hey, Vince Bagley was her godfather, after all — and I then sat down with Harry Smith, who promised: “We’re going to have to some fun.” We did. For the record, yes I was wearing the aforementioned Banana Republic suit, purchased in 1996, I now realize, not 1995. I can date the purchase so exactly because I was in Pennsylvania covering Dick Lamm’s presidential run for George magazine. (Remember Lamm? Remember George? I have nothing but affection for the experience, in which I was paid $1.25 a word, even for the approximately 1,000 of those words that were added to the piece by, I think, John Kennedy Jr. himself. Also, my editor was Inigo Thomas, one of the most delightful men I’ve ever met, who later bought me a martini the size of my head and helped me when I was reporting one of the snarkiest pieces I’ve ever written, about a young writer who was a bit full of himself.) The shoes are Faconnable slingbacks, purchased last fall from the world’s second-greatest shoe salesman. (The greatest, of course, was George Pelecanos, now retired.) The Nordstrom salesman sized me up, so to speak, and when I asked to try on a relatively simple pair of Stuart Weitzman suede clogs, came back with the Faconnables and black suede open-toed sandals, very 40s. Yes, I bought all three. They will last me forever. See, above: Banana Republic suit, purchased in 1996.
I’m writing this on the train. If it appears on the website about 1 p.m., then Amtrak – which has served me quite well this week, actually hitting the advertised 2-hour, 12-minute mark for the trip between New York and Baltimore – has come through. If it’s significantly later, then you’ll know that Amtrak was sucked into my transportation vortex.
(Um, Ms. Today Show guest? I’m sorry. But I did try to ascertain that I was in the right car. Honest.)