Andrei at the Plaza

April 08, 1991|By ANDREI CODRESCU

NEW YORK — New York

A young-old woman wearing on her body the annual budget of El Salvador tore an article out of the New York Times. The bright cold winter light came flooding through the large window of the Oak Room impeded only by the sprawling figure of a large bum making faces at us. ''A recipe for asparagus,'' she explained in internationally accented English. She herself was from Iran. She had left there moments before the shah fell and ever since she's been trailing sad diamonds through the grand hotels of the world in search of the perfect asparagus recipe.

Yes, we were at the Plaza Hotel where only moments before I myself had had a $38 poached egg on half an unbuttered English muffin. Not just any egg, of course. A swan's egg. A Faberge egg. And out of respect, I ate only half of it. It's crude to eat the whole of a $38 egg. And now I sat here nursing a $10 shot of Jim Beam, conversing with an exiled princess and pondering the vagaries of my odd life which began amid the roaches of Lower East Side and was now unfolding among Ivana Trump's broaches. Courtesy of my publisher, of course, but who's counting? So I ordered another Beam, feeling only slightly annoyed when a second bum joined the first one at the window and both started making faces.

My room itself, the ceiling of which was covered with cloth, opened unto a sunless shaft between two gloomy towers. This was not the room, unfortunately, where Harry Crosby, society playboy and surrealist poet, committed double suicide-murder with his mistress among champagne empties. That room was undoubtedly more. History's extra.

That room was probably where Rod Stewart was staying. Rod slank wan and pale past me hugging the wall of displays of jeweled boulders and velvet robes, wearing on his face an expression that said, ''Whatever you do, don't say 'Hi, Rod!' '' I didn't.

Behind Rod walked an unrelated woman girded about shoulders and waist with the tails and heads of several animals which were embedded still living in her body; they quavered and quaked. But perhaps they were just moved by the breeze that always attends the rich, the slight wind of bowing bellboys and gliding doormen.

Yes, the rich are not like you, they have their own weather.

Andrei Codescu's book about Romania, ''The Hole in the Flag,'' will be published in June by William Morrow Co., the publisher who put him up at the Plaza.

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