My friends and I have this saying that “we live on Main Street.” It sums up the idea that everyone Black and college-educated in New York all know each other. We thought it was just those who work in entertainment, but nope, all it takes is those two factors. There are no more than two degrees of separation between anyone you want to know or want to avoid. We are all connected in some twisted way.
Sometimes it’s fun (“Ooh, he’s cute! Introduce me!” or “I went to elementary school with him.”) Other times, it’s downright depressing (“Um, you dated him too?” or “Fuck! We gotta go. Long story.”) In a city/country town of 8 million people, I haven’t shown up at an event in over three years where I did not know at least five other people in the room (Wednesday night, that number jumped to 30. I was air kissing and hugging all night). You really can be anything in New York—except anonymous.
V-day, I was walking out of Stars’ office building lobby and randomly encountered Anthony M. Patterson. We don’t know-know each other, but we greet each other like old friends. I ask about his girlfriend like I know-know her and chide him for not being with her at that moment (He had to work. He was headed to her within the hour.) As life would have it, we share a story from the Main Street funny pages. See if you can keep up.
I attend a wedding with Meeka* who lives across the hall and happens to be my godsister’s best friend from Howard. The wedding is for Ieshah, who used to live in Meeka’s apartment before Heather. She also went to Howard. I get seated at the table with David. We chat, discover that we live walking distance from each other. He’s a liquor sponsor and needs an event to promote; I need a liquor sponsor for my birthday in 8 days. We exchange info. While planning the party, I discover David works for a woman named Tai.
I get a new job. The second week there, I send out an e-mail, calling for Black men 21-50 who want to talk about relationships. I get 500 responses. I pour over pictures for days to come up with the 150 cutest to work from. I can’t remember names, but I remember faces. For the next 3 months, I will see at least one of these guys every time I attend a party. Damn near every time I am introduced to a man between 21-50, he pauses, cocks his head and asks, “you work for XXXX?”It’s one the privileges and drawbacks of having a unique name.
Because my e-mail addy was on this message that went out to the men, PR reps and promoters of NYC, I get invited to all manner of events-- most parties and everything that has to do with relationships and matchmaking. I ignore most of the parties unless they come from someone I know.
Over a two week period, I get this invite to this one birthday party and its updates no less than 5 times.Who the hell is Anthony M. Patterson? I assume he’s yet another promoter. Delete.
Fast forward: My job throws a party to celebrate the new issue. Every attractive, employed Black woman in the city shows up in heels and a fresh ‘do. Of course, all my boys were invited, but only one of them comes. The others are just MIA for no apparent reason. Patent texts me while I'm at the event to say he has a b-day party to attend and won't be coming through. I tell him of the ratio of women to men where I am. Regretfully, he has to pass.
Seems the event he’s at is fabulous and is for a very dear friend and they have a million friends in common, all of whom are there. He won't leave.
The next day we exchange re-caps. My party was all women. His was all men. They went to a cigar bar, every one (well almost) wore suits. The few women that were there looked amazing. It was very sexy. Very fly. I should have been there, I would have loved it, he tells me. I nod. Sounds hot. I’m never mad at men in suits.
The following Monday, I get another e-mail from Anthony M. Patterson. The party happened and now he’s sending pictures. My curiosity gets the best of me and I open the e-mail and click the link. The first picture is of who I assume is Anthony M. Patterson. Cute guy. Never seen him before in my life. Just what I thought. Some random promoter. I click the next picture. It’s who I’ve assumed is Anthony M. Patterson and a woman who I assume is his girlfriend. I've seen this dress before, haven't I?
Turns out Anthony M. Patterson sent his contact information and picture to be considered as a male advisor. The picture he included was of him and a woman wearing a fabulous gold dress. I passed the picture around the section I sit in 1) they were a really cute couple and 2) because the dress was so fly. It’s a million dollar ensemble and the woman was wearing the hell out of it (you know that look we give when we know we look good.) I give props where they are due.
I click to another pic and my mouth drops open. It’s a group shot of 15 people, I know half of them! How the hell have I not met Anthony M. Patterson before? We have the same crew. I click again, and there is Patent. Why the fuck didn’t he invite me to this event? We go damn near everywhere fabulous together! I look at the date on the picture. It was the same night as my company event. Oh… so that’s where Patent and the other guys were. It really was a great party then!
I fire off an e-mail to Patent that recaps my discovery of who the hell Anthony M. Patterson is and how I figured it all out by remembering the gold dress his girl has worn to two different events.
Patent laughs. “Oh, yes, Tai can dress her ass off. She’s known for the gold sparkles.”
“Tai. That’s his girlfriend. ”
How many friggin Black Tai’s are in this city? “Tequilla Tai?”
“You know her. She was at your birthday party.”
I know her name and I vaguely remember being introduced to her at a Honeymag.com event in August. Not my birthday.
My Outlook is down so I pull the picture of Anthony M. Patterson from my file to take another look at Gold Dress Tai to jog my memory. It’s not the same dress! I feel awful now that I have sent an e-mail implying that a fellow fashionista has worn the same dress to two different fabulous events. Like me, she would consider this a cardinal sin. I imagine her reading the e-mail about recognizing the dress (because undoubtedly Anthony M. Patterson will send it to her) and being mortified. She might even ban gold, sparkling dresses from her wardrobe for the forseeable future. It’s what I would do.
Me, Stars and the friends head out for a rare Saturday night on the town (by choice and fun -maximization, I only party Monday thru Thursday). There’s a restaurant opening in BK, then a Downtown party for a friend who opened a shoe store Uptown, but knows there’s no way on God’s green earth the BK crew will go to Harlem on a Saturday night (for the time it takes to get there on the train, you can drive or Amtrak to Philadelphia). After that, there’s another party in the Meatpacking District.
It’s at the second party that I finally meet Anthony M. Patterson and Gold Dresses Tai. Turns out that he’s not just at the party, it’s his party. He would be the guy who opened the shoe store (Shoetique 124th & St. Nic.)
When Patent brings over Gold Dresses Tai for an introduction, I tone down my excitement to meet her because I realize that while I’ve figured out the long backstory on how we’re connected, she may not have. She may also hate me for thinking she’s worn the same dress.
Turns out, I had nothing to be concerned about. She’s beautiful and as sweet as Patent promised she is. And she’s wearing red… with no sparkles.
*most, but not all of the names have been changed.