Friday, October 30, 2009

New York By Peer Review - Ciao Phyllis Arnold, you are Gotham

Ciao Phyllis Arnold, you are Gotham.

Phyllis Arnold began with the wonderful Walter Jennings. She invited us to her Upper East Side apartment for wine and cheese, proclaimed that she “was Gotham” and triple-checked none of us were allergic to cats (we would then have to go someplace else).

None of us ladies had ever met anyone called ‘Phyllis’ before, and in the lead-up to our visit, she was the subject of much speculation, like:

- “Phyllis is 80, has 20 cats and lots of newspapers”

- “Fast-talking ‘proper woman’, bookish, dusty academic”

- “Phyllis is kinda like a Jewish version of Samantha”

- “Phyllis has four kids and is an evangelical Christian”

- “This will be awkward”.

We were so far way off.

Phyllis Arnold is not only Gotham, but deserves her own genre. We hung out with Phyllis for a few hours at her apartment, this is some of the best of Phyllis:

- “You do work with [insert PR company], ow dear uuunnnh…well that’s owkay hunny, we can still tawk”

- “My fawther was a musician and so you never approwch and awtist after a show…but I would break that rule for Russel Crow”

- “I can count on my hands how many times I’ve been to Brooklyn – 9 times. If I have to go over a bridge or through a tunnel – well…that’s travelling”

- “My friend said ‘Phyllis, Brooklyn’s not a third-world country’ – I’m not sow shaw”

- “Ow look, Bear [the cat] is showing us how to do it”

- “Do not text me…it’ll take 2 days to reply, send me an email…”

- “Bear (cat), get owffa the table” as Phyllis chases Bear across the room with a spray bottle full of water.

AMAZING. Though she looked not a day over 50, 66 year-old Phyllis was the only person we met that had grown up in Manhattan, she has been married once and ‘did her time in Connecticut’. She’s not much of a cook, but put on a great spread of meatballs (gleaned from a friend’s freezer, a toothpick in each), orange cheese, a great dip and plenty of other treats.

We asked Phyllis where to get a Martini, so she calls about five people, she (rightly) assumed they know is calling and immediately launches into a “I need a place, four lovely friends from Australia, they wanna good martini”…”Nawh, don’t text…email the address…ok..ciao”, the other person left talking on the phone, Phyllis ended the call. The lady don’t mess around!

We were treated to two bottles of incredible Zinfandel courtesy of her lovely sky-diving (he took an 80-year old up recently) friend and his upstate winery, the wine was topped-off with tequilas and Baileys on ice (oh yeah!). She told us all about what it was to grow-up and be a true New Yawkan – good and bad as well as her stories of travel, love and some brilliant life lessons “it awl gets better after 25! Trust me…”.

As our wonderful time with Phyllis came to an end, she asked if we could do her a favour as she ran into the bathroom ‘”Oh this stuff is a-mazing stuff, I’ve never used anything better, and so cheap you have to send me some from Awstralia – that would be just great..oh…we don’t have it here”, Phyllis emerged from the bathroom moments later with none other than a pink can of Cedel hairspray in her hand….

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