I am supposed to write a little about Boston today, but I can’t quite leave New York just yet…
“Oh no,” Michael said as he stared into his phone.
“What? What happened?” I asked.
“I just got a crazy email from someone at Rudy’s Bar.”
“Rudy’s Bar?,” I pondered, “Rudy’s Bar. Isn’t that the place on 9th Ave with the giant pig statue in front of it?”
“Yes,” Michael grinned.
Oh boy…our plane had just touched ground at JFK, I had not even unhooked my seatbelt and already I could feel the inevitable wrap its fingers around my ribcage…this sounded suspiciously like Nanny Rigsby.
“What does it say?” I asked.
“It says, ‘Your friend Nanny Rigsby is here with me at Rudy’s Bar and wants you to call him at Jane’s house.”
A burst of air and sound escaped from both my nostrils and my mouth at the same time. The combination made a bizarre, guffaw type sound. G looked at me with concern.
“It’s ok sweetie, Mama’s ok,” I said as I regained my normal breathing pattern, “it’s just that we are here to visit NYC for exactly one week and apparently your Nanny Rigsby caught wind of our schedule. I wonder how that happened?”
I gave Michael the ole one eye. I knew how it happened. I’m sure Michael and Nanny had a 6 minute champagne laden conversation on New Year’s Eve when Michael, off the cuff, told Nanny the potential dates of our NYC visit. I’m sure they never spoke again after that and even though Nanny refuses to use any sort of modern technology, he somehow jotted down those dates, somehow got them to his secretary and somehow secured passage across the pond from England to New York. He didn’t tell us he was coming, he didn’t even know for sure we would be there, and he certainly didn’t know if we had a place to stay. This is how Nanny rolls.
6 years ago I would have been beside myself if Michael had let this happen, but now…well…now I have a soft spot for our dear Nanny, even though I KNEW he would have no place to stay and would ask to sleep on the floor of whatever accommodations we had procured. I’ve shared bizarrely close quarters with Nanny over the years, San Francisco, Tahoe, Paris, New York. It sounds so fancy doesn’t it? Trust me, it’s not. A typical example looks a little like this…
Imagine a romantic, postage stamp sized apartment in Paris, rive droit, with a slender sleeper sofa which offers a yoga mat’s amount of space to rest your head. Imagine a bathroom designed in an era when no one was allowed, by law, to be taller than Napoleon. Then imagine all 6 foot 2 of a white haired, English Nanny squeeze himself right in there for a week along with myself, Michael and an 18 month old G.
“Who’s Jane?” I asked.
“I think he means the Jane Hotel.”
At this, I chuckled. I envisioned the poor soul Nanny had coerced to send this email for him. They were probably so inebriated and so confused they just jotted away as fast as they could until he just left them alone and went off to Jane’s house already. As part of England’s crustier upper class, Nanny has a way of convincing people they should simply just do what he says. The great irony of his financial and social position is a miserly quality I have never seen the likes of before. While he owns things like companies, flats and horses, he WILL NOT purchase an international plan for his cel phone (whose model was created in about 2001). He would much rather wander around town with an address and a large (paper) map and utilize the underused resource of people in pubs, than give Orange Mobile one more penny than they deserve.
We arrived on a Monday. M & G decided to scoot away on Tuesday to leave me alone in the fair city to run errands and spin around in the streets like Mary Tyler Moore. It was a day I had looked forward to for months. I spritzed on some perfume to match my ‘gal out on the town’ attitude and reached for my bag, when my phone rang.
718 677 4472
Hmmmmm…I don’t know who that is, I paused.
As a general rule of thumb I never answer an unrecognizable phone number, but by the fourth ring, instinct told me I should grab it.
A slight female voice with a heavy Chinese accent chirped out from the other end…”Uh…hi…yes…please hold for your friend…uh…Nanny…”
“HALLLoooo!” Nanny bellowed into the phone.
“Nanny! Who was that?”
“Oh never mind. Now, Elizabeth, where are you?”
“I’m in New York!”
“Right then. Where’s Michael? Why didn’t he call Jane? I had someone send him a message to instruct him to call Jane.”
“Yes, Nanny. Michael did call Jane, twice, in fact. He spoke to bartenders and bellhops, no one under your name had checked in. I’ve sent M & G off to Connecticut for the night, they’ll be back tomorrow.”
“What? You sent G off with him? Well G’s the whole reason I’ve come to town. Oh well, never mind then, you and I get on much better on our own anyway, don’t we? Meet me at Big Nick’s for a burger then? Half an hour.”
“Nanny. I can’t meet you until 5, I’ll be on the east side until at least 430.”
My precious New York evening just evaporated like a thought bubble stuck with a pin.
“Well alright then. There’s no sense in my meeting you over there. I’ll see you at Nick’s at 530 to be on the safe side. Bye!”
I didn’t arrive at Big Nick’s until 6 o’clock. It is so easy to underestimate how long it really takes to get from Park to Broadway. I found Nanny’s 6 foot 2 frame bolstering up Nick’s tiny doorway. He had a tense look on his face, as if in the midst of a complicated algorithm to determine the next best candidate to lend him their cel phone.
“Nanny!” I waved, “I’m so sorry I’m late!”
“Well! I’ve had to have my burger without you.” he said miffed.
From head to waist, he looked smashing, combed hair, button down shirt and a tweed sport coat. Below the waist, his jeans had giant holes in each leg exposing his knee caps and his zipper was undone. The corner of an entire paper towel hung out of his open fly.
“Nanny. You have a paper towel coming out of your open pants.”
“Oh go on then!” he shouted perturbed as he quickly saw to the matter, “oh the inner lining of these pockets is torn to shreds. What? You know I collect paper towels wherever I can when I travel, that’s how I met Michael after all, taking loo rolls from the Norfolk hotel. He thought I was up to no good, but when we were out on safari I became his best mate when he remembered I had those loo rolls. You just never know when you might need a paper towel…oh never mind, never mind, come on now, where are we going?”
Thus began the next 6 days of Nanny on our friend’s pull out sofa. He dyed the Easter eggs, carried G on his shoulders, and prepared cannapes. When we told friends he’d come to be our English butler, he said, “Oh no no no. I’m only a footman. I know my station.”
We’ve never enjoyed him more.
If you’re REALLY looking for something exciting to do, there are more Nanny stories below: