Thomas Fiffer remembers a time when life glittered with possibility.
Editor’s Note: The post that follows was written in a session of the Westport Writers’ Workshop to a prompt—the opening paragraph of Spalding Gray’s novel, Impossible Vacation, which begins, “And I half dreamed and half remembered Mom’s never-ending passion for the sea.”
And I half dreamed and half remembered the Spy Magazine holiday party at the Puck Building down on Lafayette Street—a building named after a Shakespearean character—or perhaps a hockey supply magnate’s most popular item—one couldn’t know for sure, at least not then, because the party took place at the end of the 80s, before the Google, before the Web, the hand-held, the smart phone that makes us dumb in the sense that we no longer need memory.
The party room at the top of the Puck Building glittered, not only with the requisite holiday lights but with the brightness of potential-filled youth, the sheen of accomplished adulthood, and the gleam of money and power and influence.
There was Malcolm Forbes, his distinguished bald head edged with gray perched atop a starched white collar set against a dark blue suit the color of royalty. And who was that young, blond thing next to him? She looked familiar and famous and common all at the same time. And there was Spalding Gray, unmistakable, larger than life, his nest of gray hair sitting hat-like over his high forehead, with his bushy signature sideburns, decked out in a loose-fitting, rust-colored linen jacket and pants—standing out like someone utterly unafraid of life and its consequences.
I half dreamed that I would someday be as rich as Malcolm Forbes or as smooth and cool as Spalding Gray, and I half remembered those dreams, cast aside by life and the choice of a different path.
The buzzing electricity, the charge and challenge of that gilded room at the top of the Puck Building, have always stayed with me. I don’t remember the elegant hors d’oeuvres or the glamorous cocktails I no doubt consumed. But I can still taste the essence of that era and the bittersweet yearning feeling of who and what I wanted to be. But now, I only half remember the dreams of that life. I no longer see them in full color. They haven’t died, but they have faded, like a rust-colored linen suit sent to the dry cleaner one too many times.