On the Rainbow Room


In which The Gay Recluse writes metaphorically about life.

Let’s say you were invited to a cocktail reception in the Rainbow Room, hosted by ____ and featuring a talk by _____, a political hero of yours who now works at a prestigious law firm. And even though it was a corporate event, which is never as thrilling as _____, you nevertheless accept the invitation with some anticipation, because you’ve never been to the Rainbow Room or heard _____ speak in person. The day arrives and to honor the occasion you dress up in a suit and tie; you get your shoes shined. You are even glad that you got your haircut a few days earlier, so that your shaggy hair won’t offend anyone.

The day passes and the late afternoon comes; you leave work a few minutes early and take the subway to midtown, where you navigate your way from the subway to the lobby of 30 Rockefeller Center, which resonates with a deco grandeur you have to imagine will be that much greater 65 floors above in the Rainbow Room. You check your coat and the guard escorts you to the elevator after you describe the event you’re here to attend.

In the elevator, there are two buttons: 64 and 65. You are told to exit at 64, which you don’t really think about but do as you’re told; you turn left down a hall and find your name on a badge set up on a folding table. Yours is one of perhaps 100 badges and you feel very generic as you pick it up and are directed into the reception space. This is not the Rainbow Room, you realize, but a small conference room underneath it! You head to the wine bar and accept a crab cake from one of the waiters as he glides by.

You wander to the window and gaze out at the city, which is splayed out in front of you under a veil of fog. You wonder if the view is that much better one floor up, and who exactly is speaking up there. By this point, the political hero you have come to hear is talking, and though you are suitably impressed by his oration and charisma, you are saddened to hear him talk about Reagan in such glowing terms. When the talk ends, you nevertheless shake his hand and head to wine table for a refill; at the window you contemplate your shadowy reflection in the glass and try to decide whether you were right to come this high.

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