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Ralphie's Bop City Pt. 4

The frst Ralphie’s Bop City meet ‘n greet event in Battery Park was a hit (as far as I was concerned), and I ran the scenario a few more times. Of the 2 gala occasions we’ll examine in this post, the next was on a smaller scale, the one considerably larger.
The second event was the “Win Lunch And Meet Ralphie In A Restaurant Or Have Him Perform At Your Next Lodge Function” contest. I forget what the criteria was for choosing the winner, or how many people entered. I probably pulled the name out of a hat. I had no idea what what I would do if anyone wanted a performance at a lodge function, but luckily, winner Neil C. – a longtime caller – opted for lunch. Neil worked for an employment agency in the World Trade Center (R.I.P.), so Double Dee, Very Tall Norman and I dined in a pleasant restaurant on the 66th foor of one of the towers with Neil and a friend of his. I have a picture of us somewhere, but I’m afraid it isn’t in the file folder functioning as the Bop City Archives, so no go on that for now. It was a very pleasant time, even if we didn’t have a whole lot to talk about. Time passed. I left the huge advertising agency where I worked, and freelanced for various companies in Manhattan. Living in Brooklyn became a nightmarish interlude of bad commuting. I spent an inordinate amount of time on nasty subway trains stalled in dark tunnels, so I connived my way into the smallest 2 bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

No Movies.

No shrinking violet, I. Once I had the joint painted and generally spifed up, I made plans for a blowout housewarming party. As I went through the invitation list, I had the idea to throw open the doors to participants in Ralphie’s Bop City, and so appeared “Ralphie’s Manhattan Housewarming And Everybody Meets Everybody Else Over A Couple Or Three Beers” party.
As I announced the party over the line in the upcoming weeks, I was careful to point out that this was not an occasion for drunken slobbery or mass craziness, because my parents would be attending. Not that either of those would have surprised my folks, but I wanted to keep unmanageable strangers to a minimum. No big deal in any case, though; judging by past attendance, I expected only a handful of Ralphie’s people.
A few days before the party, a friend called me:
“Stein, I’ve got the craziest thing to tell you.”
“You know, I got back yesterday from Club Med in Cancun.”
“I met this couple there on the beach, and we got to talking, and they were from Brooklyn.”
“And I asked them how long they were staying.”
“And they said that they’d originally planned on a two week stay, but they cut the vacation to a week.”
“They told me they had to get back home early because there was this party they had to go to, but it was a strange thing because they never met the person who was throwing the party, but they’d heard about it from this phone thing they’d called for years named Ralphie’s Bop City. I told them I’d see them there.”
Party day came. Platters of food from the deli (I was flush at that time), bowls of chips and pretzels, an enormous plastic garbage can full of ice, beer, wine, and soda, good tapes for the stereo (this was during the Cassette Era), and two chairs in the living room with “Reserved” signs on them for my parents. I’d invited about 70 people – friends, clients, whoever – which was probably 30 more than could ft comfortably. The invitations were 12 pages long, illuminating the lyrics to Fred Wesley’s “House Party” and printed out on my computer using the fnest mid-80’s glitchy graphics (first page reproduced above).
Nine o’clock came, and people started drifting in. Scattered amongst the early arrivals were a few people who stood at the door looking around tentatively and asking “Ralphie?” I greeted them warmly, directed them to beer and food, and thanked them for coming. Two of them asked for my Club Med friend. One of the advantages of throwing a party in the dead of winter is that, barring bad weather, a lot of people show up – sometimes more than you expect. By 11:30, I’d propped open the door to the street as well as my apartment door, and stood jammed into my front hallway with about 10 people, only a few of whom I’d met; the rest seemed to be from Ralphie’s. In fact, there were about 85 people in the apartment by that time, and by my count 30 of them had materialized because of Ralphie’s. My parents came at 9, planning to stay a little while and leave. By 11, they were pinned down at the far end of the living room by the crush of people, and couldn’t get as far as the bathroom, much less the door. I hadn’t seen them myself in over an hour, trapped as I was in the hallway.
By midnight, the joint was rocking. People were still streaming into the apartment when I looked up to see 4 complete strangers standing in the doorway. They were the sort of people I would have described as “Bridge & Tunnel,” or, more accurately, “hitters.” All their clothing was tight – form-ftting jackets, snug shirts, stretch jeans – they wore sunglasses(!) pushed up on top of their heads, their squinty eyes peeking out from underneath overhanging bangs, and in general looked like the sort of people who would kill you over a parking space.
“Uh… yeah?”
“Your parents here?”
My parents? “In the, uh, living room there…” I waved vaguely.
“Thanks.” They squeezed on past and disappeared into the crush.
The next day my mother called and asked “Who were those nice boys? There were 4 of them, I think, and they told me they came specially to meet your father and me.”
It was a very good party.
This Bop City audio is people’s answers to the question “Tell us about being a member of a club, gang, or organization. ” Props to Psychiatric Evaluation Services of Greater Noo Yawk.