Summer and the City

By: Candace Bushnell

Part One

Beginner’s Luck

Chapter One

First Samantha asks me to find her shoe. When I locate it in the sink, she asks me to a party.

“You might as well come, seeing as you don’t have anyplace else to go and I don’t feel like babysitting.”

“I’m hardly a baby.”

“Okay. You’re a sparrow. Either way,” she says, adjusting her silk bra as she wriggles into a green Lycra shift, “you’ve already been mugged. If you’re kidnapped by a pimp, I don’t want it on my hands.”

She spins around and eyes my outfit—a navy blue gabardine jacket with matching culottes that I’d actually considered chic a few hours ago. “Is that all you’ve got?”

“I have a black cocktail dress from the 1960s.”

“Wear that. And put these on.” She tosses me a pair of gold aviator sunglasses. “They’ll make you look normal.”

I don’t ask what normal is as I follow behind her, clattering down the five flights of stairs to the street.

“Rule number one,” she declares, stepping into traffic. “Always look like you know where you’re going, even if you don’t.”

She holds up her hand, causing a car to screech to a halt. “Move fast.” She bangs on the hood of the car and gives the driver the finger. “And always wear shoes you can run in.”

I skittle behind her through the obstacle course of Seventh Avenue and arrive on the other side like a castaway discovering land.

“And for God’s sake, those wedge sandals. Out,” Samantha decries, giving my feet a disparaging glance.

“Did you know that the first wedge sandal was invented by Ferragamo for the young Judy Garland?”

“How on earth do you know that?”

“I’m a font of useless information.”

“Then you should do just fine at this party.”

“Whose party is it again?” I shout, trying to be heard over the traffic.

“David Ross. The Broadway director.”

“Why is he having a party at four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon?” I dodge a hot dog cart, a supermarket basket filled with blankets, and a child attached to a leash.

“It’s a tea dance.”

“Will they be serving tea?” I can’t tell if she’s serious. She laughs. “What do you think?”

The party is in a dusky pink house at the end of a cobblestoned street. I can see the river through a crack between the buildings, turgid and brown under glints of sunlight.

“David’s very eccentric,” Samantha warns, as if eccentricity might be an unwelcome trait to a new arrival from the provinces. “Someone brought a miniature horse to his last party and it crapped all over the Aubusson carpet.”

I pretend to know what an Aubusson carpet is in favor of learning more about the horse. “How’d they get it there?”

“Taxi,” Samantha says. “It was a very small horse.”

I hesitate. “Will your friend David mind? Your bringing me?”

“If he doesn’t mind a miniature horse, I can’t imagine he’ll mind you. Unless you’re a drag or a bore.”

“I might be a bore but I’m never a drag.”

“And the stuff about coming from a small town? Nix it,” she says. “In New York, you need a shtick.”

“A shtick?”

“Who you are, but better. Embellish,” she says with a flourish as we pause in front of the house. It’s four stories high and the blue door is flung open in welcome, revealing a colorful throng, twirling and weaving like a chorus in a musical show. My insides throb with excitement. That door is my entrance to another world.

We’re about to cross the threshold when a shiny black marble of a man comes rolling out, a bottle of champagne in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other. “Samantha!” he screams.

“Davide,” Samantha shouts, giving the name a French twist.

“And who are you?” he asks, peering at me with friendly curiosity.

“Carrie Bradshaw, sir.” I hold out my hand.

“How divine,” he squeals. “I haven’t been called ‘sir’ since I was in short pants. Not that I ever was in short pants. Where have you been hiding this delightful young person?”

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