A Day at the United Nations With Taylor Negron

In 1994 I was in NYC with Taylor Negron writing on a Comedy Central show, Out There. Or I was having shoes made at that little cobbler in the East Village. I just remember one afternoon Taylor asked me if I wanted to go to the UN and have a VIP tour with his friend, the ABC press attache. I jumped at the chance -- normally my writing day ended at Grey's Papaya eating one of those hot dogs that snapped.

Taylor lured me to the U.N. with his ABC friend's personal history story. Prior to news, he was a Catholic priest. And prior to that he was married. That's who I want to deliver news to me; he's seen and heard and felt everything.

Taylor and I were ushered in the back entrance, frisked and given badges. His friend toured us around the main chamber, then we hung out in his small ABC press room. We peeked down at the floor of the General Assembly. I spotted country's name plates as if I were looking through Romper Room's Magic Mirror. I named them aloud for everyone to hear. "I see Poland I see Bolivia." My voice became shrill when I saw the familiar USA's desk, like I had been parched in Cuba for six weeks and suddenly spotted a Starbucks.

After the tour, we went to the private cocktail bar, reserved for ambassadors and their prostitutes, I guess. We ordered drinks, then sat back nibbling mixed nuts that I'm sure had been fingered by high-powered multi-nationals whose culture didn't practice hand-washing.

Soon, we were joined by a nice little black man. We began to entertain him. That's what Taylor and I do, and we both strongly believe in singing for one's nuts.

In this safe room, no one introduced each other; they just wandered around aimlessly looking to close deals that couldn't be closed on the floor of the UN here, over martinis. When there was a lull in the humor, it occurred to us to ask what he did, and were intrigued to learn that he was the ambassador from Rwanda.

Their recent horrific genocide had just occurred. He seemed glad to have the diversion of laughter and asked if we might know Bill Clinton. And if so, could we use our influence to get him office space in D.C.?

We didn't; however, I knew a Clinton joke involving a walk on the beach and a genie. I told that. He laughed and laughed.

Taylor leaned in close to the Ambassador. "Greg and I don't exactly understand what happened in your country -- the genesis of the genocide, if you will,"  Taylor said.

That little Ambassador perked right up and drew the entire struggle on a U.N. cocktail napkin. In ink. At one point he flipped the napkin over to continue the story. We pointed at different spots on the napkin to let him know we were following. He lit up like he was Professor Higgins and we had got it. We learned the Hutus were a rough lot and their country was forever changed. He hated that they would be known for this tragedy, instead of the land of magnificent gorillas.

Our gathering had turned very somber, and I knew that I needed to take back control of the audience. I told him the story of my monkey, and he smiled. Taylor owned a pet monkey, too, and shared that tale.

The clock struck 7PM. Taylor and I had to leave. He'd rented an apartment with a rooftop terrace and we had friends coming over. Had we known we would be in the private lounge of the U.N. discussing world events with world leaders, we'd never have invited anyone over for tortellini salad and homemade Sangria.

Our footsteps echoed as we walked through the empty atrium of a hallway toward the secured, private exit of the building. It was just the two of us at this point in the early evening. We stopped in the window-lined hall, where the smell of Pine Sol caught up to us. We asked each other if we really should leave. My cell phone rang. It was someone needing Taylor's address.

We all have to leave the party at some point. As we walked toward the exit, we pocketed our coveted name badges. We'd lie to security that we lost them. Taylor patted his pocket, where he had the hand-drawn war cocktail napkin inside.

Later, Taylor and I made beautiful eggs on a cooking show. I miss him.


4 comments:

  1. Life is so funny,6 degrees of separation.I tried out for Romper Room .I guess this means we have a connection.

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  2. As if there was any doubt.

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  3. Why did he smile when you told him about your monkey? I laughed. Maybe he had seen monkeys with footballs?
    Great story, Greg. You're on a roll.

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  4. Thanks for reading, smart! Tell your friends...

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