So last night, I went to a reception at Gracie Mansion to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I still don’t know how I got on the invite list, but I was as eager as any of the other 750 Asian Pacific American people to get my picture taken with Mike Bloomberg.
Let me just say this (with all due respect): the man is tiny. In my heels, I had to be at least five inches taller than him. I think I may have been slouching out of sympathy. Around models, I try and stand as tall as I can out of a pathetic attempt to match up, but around short men, I feel the need to slouch. Maybe because I don’t want them to feel bad or emasculated.
The photo taking was a well-oiled machine, a conveyor belt, or any other impersonal, industrial age-type analogy you can think of. There was a whole system and the mayor’s handlers kept it moving along. “Put your bag on your left shoulder” they instructed before you entered the room. They didn’t even let you put your things down because it would slow down the process and apparently, purses and bags don’t show up in the picture when worn on the left side. I find this hard to believe but maybe it was because I was carrying two giant tote bags full of scripts and a sign for the Oxford University alumni event I planned for later in the evening.
He shook my hand and literally two seconds later, he was using the handshake to maneuver me out of the room. He basically shoved me away with his handshake. I’m sure I didn’t have time to prepare my usual half smile/low-risk of squinty eyes and food in the teeth facial expression and carefully angled arm so it doesn’t look fat pose. I was probably also sympathy slouching. Oh, well.
The event was catered by some of the city’s Asian restaurants including Chinatown Brasserie. Little cards indicated what the food item was and who catered it: “Fried Rice – Gracie Mansion.” (Fried rice?… really?) I find eating in these situations difficult. You’re always standing and trying to look presentable and afraid to be caught with your mouth full. But it’s also hard for me to turn down free food.
Many people were there in the ethnic garb of their nations. Kimonos and qi paos and hanboks abounded. An Asian magician (well, perhaps this term is misleading. He was a magician who happened to be of Asian descent. There was nothing particularly “Asian” about his card tricks) was entertaining people while they sipped Thai iced tea and wine. “His parents must be so disappointed,” I joked to a friend from high school who happened to be there because she works for HSBC, which sponsored the event.
Bloomberg made a nice little speech. He was surprisingly charming and funny. At some point, he asked three volunteers to come on stage to participate in a trivia challenge about Asian-American culture. “Which of these ruggedly handsome actors was born in the year of the rat?” he asked, “A, Russell Crowe, B, Sylvester Stallone, C, Clint Eastwood or D Mike Bloomberg.” That’s not funny,” he quipped after everyone started laughing. “For the record, I was born in the year of the horse.” “Oooh” most of the audience cooed, as though pertinent information had been revealed or one of life’s mysteries had been unraveled.
It was a nice evening overall…