Incident on Lexington: Three Variations

by Dan Morey

Incident on Lexington: Three Variations

The story:

Kimberly Collins, a young actress, barges into Phillippe’s, an exclusive restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The maître d’ can’t seat her, so she throws a glass of wine in his face and storms out.

The variations:

1. Period: 1960s. Narrator: a gossip columnist.

2. Period: 1920s. Narrator: a flapper.

3. Period: 1970s. Narrator: a rock critic.


Gossip Columnist. 1960s.

I was at Phillippe’s on Lex, sharing a bottle of bubbly with Babe Paley and Truman Capote, when someone started screaming at the maître d’. I turned to get a look, and who should I spy, but Kimberly Collins, the long-limbed ingénue who’s been seen canoodling with everyone from Gianni Agnelli to Bob Dylan.

Ms. Collins, barely dressed in a Mary Quant mini, her eyes glowering beneath brows of Elizabethan proportions (Taylor, that is), shoved past the waitstaff into the room. Pretty bold for a B-player who has yet to appear in a feature outside the Bikini Bikers trilogy!

When Ms. Collins realized there were no tables available, she turned abruptly, swinging her Pucci bag, and knocking Gore Vidal’s champagne flute to the floor. “Terrible waste,” quipped the author, as his ’55 Dom formed a sticky puddle.

The maître d’ tried to intervene, but Ms. Collins grabbed a glass of white burgundy (Château de Puligny-Montrachet) from Brooke Astor’s table and soaked him. Wow. And I thought Zsa Zsa Gabor was a hazard to public safety! As the maître d’ dried himself off, Ms. Collins minxed out the door, leaving the glamorous crowd in a thrilled kerfuffle. Let’s hope she remembers to make a reservation next time!


Flapper. 1920s.

MINNIE: So tell me a story, why don’t ya?

GLORIA: What sorta story?

MINNIE: I dunno. Somethin’ trick and trashy.

GLORIA: Well, couple days ago I got stood up by that bozark Chester.

MINNIE: What an Otis. I wish he’d go back to Peekskill. So what’d ya do?

GLORIA: Made an ankle excursion all the way to Phillippe’s.


GLORIA: By the time I got there my dogs were murdered. It was all I could do to grab a flop in the corner and slurp some giggle water.

MINNIE: Were ya piffled?

GLORIA: Piffled? Ha! You slaughter me, Min. I was stewed to the hat! Didn’t know a soul, either. Just that crumpet-muncher Freddy, who was busy making chin music with some blonde boy out front. The place was deader than Teddy Roosevelt. Bunch of old face-stretchers and their Airedale husbands. Butt me, would ya, Min?

MINNIE: Only got a dincher.

GLORIA: Half a ciggy’s better than none. Where was I?

MINNIE: Phillippe’s.

GLORIA: Right. So I’m about to mooch outta there when somebody starts in screeching at the headwaiter. I look up and there’s Kimmy Collins crashing the room.


GLORIA: You know. Kimmy Shimmy. Dances in the Midnight Frolic.

MINNIE: Oh, sure. The Black Bottom girl.

GLORIA: Yeah. So she’s layin’ into this waiter. The guy’s a real ballroom golfer, if you know what I mean, and bearcat Kimmy’s breathin’ fire. But the room’s full, so what’s he gonna do? I guess he shoulda got outta the way, because Kimmy lets fly with a glass of snozzle juice that slaps him right in the mug.

MINNIE: Applesauce!

GLORIA: It’s true. I was knocked for a row of carrots, I can tell you. The whole place went blooey!

MINNIE: Oh my.

GLORIA: That’s nuthin’. Wait’ll you hear what that dewdropper Addison Osgood’s been up to.

MINNIE: Do tell, do tell…


Rock Critic. 1970s

Phillippe’s. Feeding ground for inbred upper-crusters and name-dropping nouveau riche. So what am I doing here? Why am I breaking bread with these money-grubbing degenerates? Have I finally sold out?

‘Course not, you nimrods. I’m here for one reason, and one reason only: to interview Mr. Lou Reed. Yes, I’m waiting for Lou fucking Reed again. An asshole of double-LP proportions who publicly derides me every chance he gets, and who’s undoubtedly chosen this douchebag canteen as the venue for our talk as either a cruel joke or a savage attempt to upperhand me. So I wait. At Phillippe’s. It’s my fucking job.

What’s this? Someone’s screaming. A godawful skronk that sounds like Patti Smith tearing out Yoko Ono’s pubic hair to a soundtrack of the Stooges’ “L.A. Blues” and the Germs’ “Forming” played simultaneously at the wrong speed. It’s fucking beautiful. I figure Lou must’ve come in with one of his transvestite dumpster freaks and scared the excrement out of some uptight society matron, but in fact it’s a skinbone chickiebroad of the actress persuasion who’s emitting the aforementioned noise, while some obsequious maître d’ is sucking hard on her admittedly well-formed ass, trying to get her to lude out. But she’s not having it. Seems to think if she squeals like a twisted bitch she’ll get a seat where the fancy fucks feed.

Not a bad idea, really, except there isn’t a single empty chair in the whole dump. Hell, I’d gladly give her my table if a.) I wasn’t fat, lazy, and utterly fucking indifferent to her plight, and b.) The thought of actually speaking to this horrid mannequin in runway rags didn’t overwhelm me with dizzying jabs of nausea. Not that I’d mind blowing cheese all over this rat-hole, but I’ve ingested some pretty fine pharmaceuticals, which I wouldn’t like to see floating in a puddle of bile.


Well, damn, now the bimbo’s gone completely schizo and soaked the maître d’s penguin duds with wine. Hee-oo! There she goes. Big grandiose exit. Off to some other swank scumpit to do her swilling. So long, toots. And hey! There’s Lou Reed across the street. He’s chatting up a hairy-jowled dwarf girl. Fuck! 

About the Author

Dan Morey is a freelance writer in Pennsylvania. He’s worked as a book critic, nightlife columnist, travel correspondent and outdoor journalist. His writing has appeared in Hobart, Harpur Palate, McSweeney's Quarterly, decomP and elsewhere. He was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Find him at

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#thesideshow| Flash Fiction| January 2020