Date: 31/07/2021
Email: Keep my email address private
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Under The Biltmore clock

"under the clock at the Astor at seven"...
-- from a reader in response to this post

Biltmore. In New York, not Asheville. But when they meet, that man and that woman, they are not likely to be going off to an Irish bar akin either to the real one described by Mitchell, or tro the imagined one carefully undescribed by Finley Peter Dunne. No, if headed unbedwards, and in those chaste movies they always were, it would be to a nightclub. Not the noisy kind, not the raucous Prohibition-era place (the rap on the door, the peep-hole, the password, the promised raid by the police with the whistles blowing and the paddy-wagon filling up outside with those dancing girls) that was a staple in certain kinds of crime movies starring Jimmy Cagney or Edward G. Robinson (both of whom could have exchanged stories on the set in Yiddish), but rather a place in the early 1930s, without those speakeasy noises on and off, and where the swells gathered -- say, isn't that Edward Everett Horton, playing the upper-class twit from Tuxedo Park or Oyster Bay, chatting up the cigarette-girl? -- but the decibel-level diminished, and there was time for Boy and Girl, or Man and Woman, to talk.

No, if you were to meet someone under the Biltmore clock, and then went to sit somewhere over a drink, that place would not be presided over by McSorley or Mr. Dooley. And the drinks would not have been a beer and gin and whiskey, or an Anna-Christie don't-be-stingy-baby viskey, baby, but rather cocktails for two, we'll take manhattans, and dry martinis, and singapore slings, and there will be a cigarette that bears a lipstick's traces, and smoke will get in your eyes, and let's face it, at least one of us will be bewitched, bothered, and bewildered, but still I can't get started, and perhaps much later at least one of us will discover that a big mistake was made when you agreed to meet me, fatidically, under the Biltmore clock.