It was hell going up and down in the elevator at 985 Fifth Avenue with Eliot Spitzer and his wife and three young daughters, pretending everything was fine. I was their occasional neighbor until four years ago, frequently staying in the apartment of a friend whose master bedroom was directly below the Spitzer's.
The 46-apartment, 26-story building is made like a vault. I seldom heard even 79th Street traffic. But the common master bathroom venting system didn't lie. On more than one occasion, my friend and I wondered what to do when the raging and abusive language -- Eliot Spitzer's -- reached operatic levels at 1am and later.
Had Spitzer not been the Attorney General of New York State and had his father, Bernard, not owned the luxury rental property with sweeping views of Central Park, I would have called a domestic abuse hotline. As it was, I didn't.
Spitzer's now-famous gubernatorial outbursts -- including to New York State Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco: "I'm a [expletive] steamroller, and I will destroy you" -- are not unfamiliar in tone to me. There seemed to be graver and more pernicious problems in the Spitzer household than among testy colleagues in the New York State Assembly. I smiled at the Spitzer children, exchanged hellos in the lobby, and carried around information I hadn't sought and didn't want.
One has to wonder why an early overachiever like Silda Wall Spitzer became so increasingly invisible as a New York wife and mother. She had graduated from a small Baptist college in North Carolina, married Peter Stamos now director of Sterling Stamos (a $3 billion money management firm) during their second year at Harvard Law in 1982, divorced him 29 days later, graduated in 1984 and then practiced at the white shoe law firm Skadden Arps -- out-earning Spitzer, whom she married in 1987.
Whatever the symptoms of the Spitzer marriage, the solutions for the family may be long, arduous, and difficult to achieve. Both Spitzers are proven achievers -- I hope they find the strength and courage to make the journey--together or separately.
News of FBI wiretaps travels fast. But not as fast as through the ventilation system at 985 Fifth.