DO NOT READ THIS if you are squeamish at the mere mention of raw oysters, excessive spending, or bodily functions!
It was the Saturday before what would become a “Lost But Never Found” Weekend ’90 The anti-Christ and I had gone to New York to recreate, catch a few shows, and perhaps enjoy a little shopping.
I should prepare you, Oh Non-Judgmental Reader. The anti-Christ (to whom I refer) was not the one who architects the Apocalypse. No, not at all! I’m reminiscing about the one … the shorter, bald one in N. Arlington, Virginia.
Earlier that day, we pre-arranged to meet at Five Oaks in the village for martinis and to compare the day’s notes. I at least was exhausted from scurrying from SoHo to Columbus Circle … in search of the perfect gifts for my employees. We each had two hefty libations: A.C. had rather twisted Beefeater martinis while I opted for equally twisted J&B RobRoys.
After we had both “eased our pain” and had forgotten the afternoon’s bedlam & frenzy, we hailed a taxi and headed straight to ManRay in Chelsea, which was my favorite local bistro (at that time!)
The maitre d’ navigated us carefully to our rather cozy table which was nested in a sea of VERY closely spaced tables. ManRay was seated at capacity so we resigned ourselves to the spot and took our seat. The folks around us all seem intimately placed. On either side of us were couples having romantic interludes. Behind George (oooops, I finally “slipped”, my friends!) were four women in holiday sweaters, a little too much mascara, and what looked like Long Island hairstyles circa 1987.
I imagined that they were four buddies who had saved their hard-earned money for their one holiday “girls’ night out” in Manhattan, but I could’ve easily been quite mistaken. I had no idea who was behind me except that I heard several voices overlapping in some heated discourse about BIG Bush (my pet name for George H.W. Bush).
We both had another cocktail while we perused the menu, except this time George ordered a triple gin martini UP. We were both excited because ManRay prepared a spectacular pasta, tossed with sauteed escargot and grilled artichoke bottoms in a brie cream sauce. For starters, we chose to share a dozen raw oysters on the half shell, followed by caesar salads, and then the pasta.
While the waiter collected our menus and the wine list, George “chugged” his entire martini and promptly ordered another one while I sat rather stupefied … anticipating some Albee-an drama to soon unfold.
At that point, George looked at me (with a difficulty in focusing) and informed me that perhaps he didn’t feel well, promptly regurgitating onto the floor to his left. I was horrified, as I am now in just recounting the evening! He stood up, against my protest, to scurry to the mens room. But alas, such tipsy feet never “scurry”; at best they falter & shuffle. He turned away, against my even further protest, and the evening thus plummeted into the annals of Tenth Avenue HELL:
George threw up right into the handbag of the one of the supposed Long Islanders! Her bag was unfortunately hanging on the post of her chair at the most inopportune time. Oddly, the quartet was so engaged in merriment that they didn’t notice, nor for that matter did any of the patrons. I sat him down, summoned the waiter, and quickly paid our check. My only thought was to get George out of there AT ANY COST as rapidly as possible. I reached for George’s wallet (of course, THIS dinner was on HIM!), giving the waiter his AMex card and pulling out two $100 bills.
The kind hostess helped me maneuver George back to the nearby hotel. I gave her one of the two bills and asked her to offer the other to the woman with the “tainted” pocket book. Thirty minutes later, I was strolling down Tenth Avenue contemplating the nightmarish events of earlier; George was sound asleep (read: passed out!). The “Stand By Me” near-renactment forced me out of denial as to what I had seen building for many, many moons.
I decided to go back to ManRay to effusively apologize, knowing that would be the last time I would ever be bold enough to enter the front door. The manager greeted me and, trust me, he was well aware of what transpired and the unfortunate chain of events that it prompted. (Yes, the four women were indeed from Long Island and they decided to take the train back home, without further pursuit of cheer.)
He offered me a glass of wine and we chatted rather superficially, when he suggested that I have dinner. After all, it WAS already paid for and they had never even prepared it.
Reluctantly, I agreed, but I was stunned by the man’s hospitality and compassion.
Upon my eventual departure, he welcomed me back anytime. However, he did warn me that it was perhaps best for all parties if George were banned … permanently without discussion “ad infinitem”!
On the brisk ten minute walk to the hotel, I realized my relationship with George had indeed entered into some interactive apocalypse, and thus his nickname of the “anti-Christ” was born.
The next morning, George asked me sheepishly if we had enjoyed dinner. I replied to the anti-Christ that I was certain he had NOT, but that ultimately I HAD.
I often wonder about the handbag woman from Long Island. I suspect she refers to George as the anti-Christ as well.
(Image by Simon Albane.)