He was one of the most annoying people I have ever met - the mold for the New Yorker everyone loves to hate. Every human descriptive with "self" as a preface could easily apply. I was introduced by a friend and learned that He was a translator for the United Nations - a perfect job for someone who wants professional tools to cut others with precision. A person like this will, however, need a constant audience to fan his ego and will likely run through unsuspecting victims rather quickly. I was one of them.
He believed everything had a price and it could be quantified. One only needed to ascertain whether the value of a thing or proposition was worth the price to any given person. His favorite question to me was always "How much is it worth to you?"
He lived on the Upper East Side. I visited His apartment once. On a tour of His home, every furnishing was pointed out and named, always prefaced by the brand or designer. I was to know that the ordinary or inexpensive did not belong here.
He had an outdoor garden (of course). It was here that I saw a moment of merit when He got into an argument over grammar with His close friend, also a translator for the UN. At one point, His friend, furious, declared that you absolutely could not use words in a particular way. He grabbed a paper napkin and began diagramming the sentence, something I had not seen since grade school. I don't remember the outcome, but it did not involve the brand or cost of the napkin or pen - the weaponry of the argument.
At that time in New York City, nothing to me conferred status more than gaining admittance to the various hot clubs, places like the Mudd Club, Xenon and the most well known, Studio 54. These places had arbitrary admission policies and potential admitees were chosen from the throngs outside the door, completely at the whim of the bouncer and his criteria.
On one occasion, I became extremely excited to learn that He was a regular at Studio 54. When I asked about the prospect of getting in, He asked what it was worth to me. $10? $20? He also surveyed my appearance, knowing full well that I would be a challenge.
A large number of us made an excursion to Studio 54 with Him. I recall very little except carrying a crumpled bill in my sweaty hand and following Him in a line with the others like victims of river blindness. At one point He looked back and told me to run my fingers through my hair and "look rich." I think He sensed the futility of getting our motley crew in before the bouncer rejected us, telling Him there were just too many to admit to the club. It did appear, however, that He did have rapport and clout with the bouncer. We failed nonetheless.
In my few brief encounters, I did take away one thing of value and that is about restaurants - dining is a business transaction. He had no tolerance for those restaurants that had menus without prices (such places do exist) or the common practice of waiters reciting specials without prices. You have the right to know the prices and asking is not improper. The management has already priced the offerings, so why hide it from the customer? I now never hesitate to ask a waiter the price of any special(s) I am interested in.
But as annoying as He was, I was to meet much worse in what is one of the finest (and most mysterious) restaurants in New York City and the waitress that had to serve him. My dining companion and I felt so badly for her. See why in Part 2 that we felt and said Poor Winnie :)