Nobody likes “the professor,” but he does throw great parties. Lots of good-looking yuppies, excellent food and an open bar.
A distinguished professor of psychology at the City University, he owns a huge apartment in The Dakota, a landmarked building on Central Park West. He never could have afforded it on his salary but he earns substantial royalties from his pop psychology books. They include such titles as Relations That Last Forever, How to Make Great First Impressions, and Anger Management for Dummies.
You would think that the professor would have a great store of personal experience to draw upon but apparently his social life revolves entirely around his parties. He stands at the door most of the evening greeting his guests and checking their names on his list. If you are not on the list then no amount of begging will get you in.
Pushing sixty, the professor is not an attractive man. With a Trump-sized head looming over the scare-crow body of an Ichabod Crane, he’s a rather unusual looking dude. On the bright side, he has a ready-made Halloween costume.
Caroline and I met at the gym. She’s what guys used to call “a real looker.” Fantastic body, angelic face, and Midwestern nice. Me? Just another plain Jane from Queens. Or, as I sometimes overhear some man saying, “Nothing special.”
Caroline is one among New York’s tens of thousands of aspiring actors, few of whom ever progress beyond a handful of unpaid showcase productions. But she does make a nice living doing commercials.
She confided that most of the men she knew were actors, and you know what that means.
“Hey, y’know what, Caroline? Why not come with me to some parties? You’ll meet tons of guys – and all of them will be straight.”
“How do you know, Holly?”
“’Cause they hit on almost every woman they meet.”
It just so happens that this weird professor is hosting a party on Friday night. And get this: He lives in The Dakota.”
“Rosemary’s Baby! John and Yoko! Oh, and Judy Garland, Leonard Bernstein, and Lauren Bacall! You know, Holly, next to being in a Broadway play, I think visiting where all those stars lived would be almost as much of a kick! Heck, I’d go just to see the building!”
Three nights later we took a cab across the park and walked into the lobby of The Dakota. The professor had left a list downstairs, and the doorman checked off my name. “And is this beautiful woman with you?”
“She sure is!”
“Here for the first time, honey?”
“Well then, if you’d like, have a look around the lobby before you go upstairs. And if you have any questions, I’m here till midnight.”
We thanked him and began walking around the lobby. The only thing I knew about The Dakota’s history was that it was built in the early 1880s. So I just let Caroline do her tourist thing. As we approached the elevator, we were joined by two empty suits, that were also on their way to the party.
Before we’d reached our floor, they were both coming on to Caroline, while completely ignoring me. Caroline introduced me, and very sweetly said that we could all get to know each other much better at the party.
As we got off the elevator, it sounded as though hundreds of people were all talking at the same time. We had to keep banging on the door until it was opened and the professor peered out. He nodded at the two suits, who quickly entered the apartment. He gave me a weak smile, saying “You I know!” Then he looked at Caroline.
I knew quite well how men reacted to her so I was expecting some sort of lecherous remark like: “What have we here?” Boy, was I wrong! Without warning, he screamed, “How dare you try to sneak into my party? Get out of here!”
I could see the veins in his neck swelling. His face went from pasty white to deep purple. He screamed louder and louder. “You goddamn bitch! Slut! Whore!”
He struggled to catch his breath, and was now shouting at the top of his lungs: “You think you can crash my party? Eat my food? Drink my liquor?”
I was afraid he would have a heart attack! I yelled the first thing that popped into my head: “Professor! She’s with me!”
Silence. The color began to drain from his face. The three of us just stood there. Then he opened the door wide and said, “You may both come in.”
Caroline and I looked at each other, shrugged, and went inside. He followed us in, locked the door, and then turned to Caroline. “My dear, may I have your telephone number?”