God’s Waiting Room

Kyle Dowling

Why am I here? This place; it’s not typically somewhere I’d find myself venturing to on a Saturday night. The Friars Club; East 55th Street.

Some call it one of the most respected clubs in the history of New York City. Jerry Lewis, Billy Crystal, Milton Berle—it’s a place for legends. However, others label it the correct terminology of “God’s Waiting Room.” Myself included..

The tables surrounding me are filled with people all of the same ilk, the old money types with no worries in the world. And old is the critical term. Stephen Frederick? God will see you now..

To my left I can see a once-revered actor/comedian from the 70s, his earlobes droop so low that if he were to descend his head two inches they’d surely dip in his lobster bisque. He’ll need another napkin, perhaps two. When my eyes drift to the right I see a pair of women who have what can only be construed as two of the most disturbing faces mankind has ever seen… too many plastic surgeries, indeed. To them, aging is a curse. Bring me beauty. However you can.

Spiraling my head around the room—waiting for the man buying me dinner to finish in the bathroom—I see a lovely dining area. Wonderful art, pictures of legends, elegance. I’m okay with that. However, the patrons are the geriatrics, the ones with brand new hips, the ones wearing Depends undergarments, the ones who fancy it necessary to treat racial slurs as common vernacular. The “innocent racists.” And the food?

Truthfully I’m not aware of what any of these items are. All I know is that this Rum and Coke in my hand is too weak—far too weak—for my liking. And is it real Coke? Yet despite all of this it is my dearest friend at the moment. Speak to me Rum. Let us drift away. Can’t we leave?

Eventually the Friar who invited me returns. He explains the ins and outs of this club, this hellhole covered in expensive granite. This large coffin filled with soon-to-be tenants. He tells me the committee is attempting to attract younger members. Friends, with one glance around the room I can tell you a dozen reasons that will never happen. We young men, we young women, do not do slacks. We do jeans and short skirts, dresses. We do not do perfectly trimmed blazers. We are comfortable. We do not care for dress codes. And we are not ones for the hoitytoity, the snobs of your generation.

“So what do you think?” he says. “You in?” as he stuffs his face with some puzzling unknown chicken dish. I wonder; does he know what it is he’s ingesting?

My hands quiver, my heart races. The knife beside my plate looks like the perfect size for my neck, should my mouth say yes. “Well…” I say. “No, no way in hell.” Get me out of here.