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Kittredge: Late Night Ride

08/24/11 7:55AM By Susan Cooke Kittredge
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Commentator's Brunch Sampler

(HOST) Every year we invite commentators to write on the same theme and share their essays at a brunch, which we record so we can feature a sampler of their efforts later on the air. This year the topic was "Picture This" and commentator Susan Cooke Kittredge offered a vivid account of a rather steamy, late night adventure.

(KITTREDGE) I was nineteen, working in Manhattan when I got my first apartment. I paid $125 a month for a tiny four-flight walk-up on 63 rd between Lexington and Park.

The Saturday I moved in was a real scorcher; so that night, when I had unpacked the few belongings I owned, I threw open the windows and collapsed, exhausted in bed. There were still mosquitoes in the city in those days and in no time my face was pockmarked, my eyes swollen shut with bites. Longing to go home to my parents' air-conditioned apartment, I, nonetheless, held firm, "I will not give in; this is my first night in my own place."

At 2:30 am, I changed my mind, put on a T-shirt and my little mini-skirt and fled to the street to hail a taxi. No cabs cruised Part Avenue at that hour. Standing on the corner I stared at the empty street. But as luck would have it, a shiny black limousine soon slid to a stop before me. The back seat window rolled down and a man in a tuxedo leaned across the leather seat and asked if I'd like a ride. Bending down to see him, I said, "Yes, that would be wonderful." And I got into the car.

When asked where I'd like to go, I replied "96 th and Fifth, please." Meanwhile, a black-cloaked arm slid along the back of the seat above my shoulders as the body to which it was attached moved ever closer.

Feeling his heat close to me, I said, "I think you know my father."

He froze and asked, somewhat haltingly, "Who is your father?"

"Alistair Cooke," I replied, and the arm slithered quickly in retreat like a snake seeking refuge beneath a rock. He moved to the far side of the seat and the chauffeur guffawed in the rear-view mirror.

As the limo pulled up to my parents' building, I turned to him and said, "Thank you very much, for the ride, Mr. Sinatra."

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