Standing around in Central Park, waiting for the shuttle to take us from the Boathouse to Fifth Avenue, we chatted about how we were doing at such a late, tired hour. I said I was going to crash when I got back to my apartment - "Don't say crash," someone else told me. I laughed, and said I was okay. I explained, I'd had a couple of drinks and then some coffee, some water too, and I was at a good balance of everything to keep coasting for a while. At least until I got back to my apartment, after which, I said, I won't say anything more.
I got driven out of the park, and I got driven into the park. My brother had the time and willingness to drive me and the Gala's baked goods to the Boathouse, and took deep pleasure in doing so - as he said, it might be the one day in his life he drives in Central Park. It was a good day for it, too: that brief time when both flowers and leaves are new and everything is fresh.
I got there early, almost too early, two and a half hours to spare. I walked around the park some, enjoying the people and sunshine. I set up everything, and watched it go into the kitchens for safekeeping until it was time for the after-dinner coffee. I hung out with a couple raptor people from New Jersey, and met a Barred Owl named Mitzi and a Red-Tailed Hawk named Ruby. Both of them got a lot of attention from the birds nearby, with the jays and blackbirds - of course it was the corvids - being the first to start shouting about them, with the sparrows and cardinals joining in. So I joked they should do bird walks with raptors as bait. Bring out the other birds and let people listen.
Things were being set up and arranged up until the last moment before the doors opened for the guests. As it's been said, the show doesn't go on because it's ready, the show goes on because it's showtime. And what a show it was! There was a cheese table, a specific table for cheese, with seven different kinds and someone who'd cut small slices off the logs and wheels when someone wanted a piece. I've been to weddings that aren't as fancy as that.
This is the Flocktail's first year in this space. Far more expensive than other years - the previous locations were all provided for free - and also far nicer. Not just for the catering. It was an airy, open room, with a tall ceiling and windows all around, plus a view out to the Central Park boating pond. When someone got up onto the small stage, everyone could hear them, and when someone got onto the floor to perform, everyone could see them. It wasn't huge, just a couple hundred people. Enough you couldn't meet everybody, and enough you could feel comfortable with just about anyone.
Sometimes the party picked up, sometimes it slowed down. A lot of it was standing or sitting around, eating fancy food and talking to people. It was an open bar, but I've learned since college, and just had two drinks, counting the prosecco they were handing out on trays at the door.
The moments of picking up were numerous, though. There were three dance numbers. There was a short performance by Nellie McKay. The live auction had a professional auctioneer, the kind that talked at fifteen miles a minute and whipped the audience into clapping every time the bid hit another hundred dollars, do I hear sixteen hundred, sixteen, seventeen hundred, eighteen hundred, he's bidding the boat, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one!
It ended up being over twenty-one hundred dollars. I think it went for thirty-one hundred, outbidding the two all-access passes to the Tribeca film festival and the tickets to Hamilton. That one was for a walk in Central Park with the director of the Wild Bird Fund. And Bill Irwin.
It takes a particular audience to get whipped up about Bill Irwin - who would, in fact, be sailing a little boat he'd brought with him out on the Reflecting Pool during the walk. And I was so, so happy to be in that audience.
I approached him near the end of the night, told him I loved how he moved on stage and shook his hand. I did the same for Nellie McKay. But I didn't give her my card. I gave Bill Irwin my card.
As part of the preparations for this, in addition to baking so many cupcakes several people took about a dozen each home with them, I got business cards. So yes. I have cards. Do you want my card? I have a card, drop me a line. I can send you something, here's my card. You need my name, it's on my card.
Though I have to say, much as I loved casually offering out my card, much as I adored exchanging meaningful words with Bill Irwin, glad as I was to attend this sort of thing where the full cost of ingredients was much less than a ticket, what I liked most was being there at the start and the end. Seeing what goes into making it possible, getting it set up and taken down. The stillness before and after all the dancing, when it's open and ready for the night, and when it's just a few people left out in the night, ready to be home.