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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Summer in the City - A Sense of Purpose

Do you ever wish you were sunk into your chintz cushions in your white wicker chair on the veranda? You know — those chintz pillows covered in the fabric with the big, blowsy roses? And that little breeze that blows through your garden of real blowsy red roses? And you sip your ice tea and watch the world go by and think, yes, such a lovely way to spend a summer day?

Except you don’t have a wicker chair, much less a garden?

Me either.

That, however, is why there is the Museum of the City of New York. It has white wicker chairs in which to loll and blowsy roses at which to gaze. And inside … well, how blowsy can a blowsy rose get? Mighty blowsy if it was designed by Dorothy Draper. In the exhibit about her life and work as an interior designer that’s at the museum now, there’s a wonderful video of her looking a little blowsy herself, explaining how every bit of design must have a “puuurpose.” But the only puuurpose you can find in her designs, really, is delight. Ah, delight, what higher puuurpose is there?

I was relieved to be delighted, too, let me tell you, for on our way to the museum the other day, my girlfriend Janet and I were waiting for the bus and it was 100 degrees and the driver … DID NOT STOP.

Yes, it’s been hot and some people — people who drive New York City bus number 5582, for example — have not behaved with the civility one might have expected from the person who drives, say, bus 5582. Some people, and I’m not mentioning names, although they tend to be the person who drives bus 5582, do not realize that it is not only design that has puuurpose, it is also buses. What is the puuurpose of a bus if not to stop and pick up passengers at the bus stop, and in the case of bus 5582, to pick up Janet and me?

This disturbing trend in what can only be described as bus 5582, on the hottest day of the year, by a certain bus driver who happened to be behind the wheel of a bus which I happened to notice was number 5582, has given me an inspiration regarding New York City public transportation. I am a fan of New York City public transportation, which is why the actions of a bus driver who shall remain nameless only because I do not know his name (although he was seen in the driver’s seat of bus number 5582) were so devastating. Also, because it was 100 degrees and we were late.

But here is my idea: Imagine if the interior of a bus looked like a Dorothy Draper interior. Dorothy Draper designed hotel lobbies and spas and the interiors of airplanes. I would like to see a Dorothy Draper design in a New York City bus. Black, but not puuure black, no, an almost puuurple black, with bright white trim and banquettes with pink velvet seats and green and white striped backs and huge, gilded bell pulls, lacquered white poles and red satin straps, fringed, of course … it would be beautiful. And its puuurpose, its only puuurpose, would be to delight. It would stop at every stop, too. Why? Why, in order to delight those waiting there in the 100-degree heat to go to the East Side to see the Dorothy Draper exhibit and sit in the Museum of the City of New York’s white wicker chairs!

Let’s hire Dorothy Draper! Cruel and inhumane bus drivers, the identifying number of whose bus we need not repeat, for by now we have memorized that it is 5582, would be soothed and mellowed by the weirdly, grandly cozy Draper design. Smiling and rehabilitated, this formerly hardhearted driver, who had once so callously guided the large vehicle numbered 5582 past the wilting, overheated citizens, would now pull gently to a halt …

Wait.

Oh.

Janet just told me the number of the bus was not 5582, at all. It was 5593 …

Well, it probably didn’t quite hit 100 degrees that day, either.

But there was a little breeze when we sat in our white wicker chairs. And there was the scent of roses.

Dorothy Draper is dead, by the way. Did I mention that?

Yet her puuurpose lives on in New York City in August. Fat flowers, rococo sunbursts and public transportation for all!

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