I ate Lunch

What I saw: Lunch with Mrs. Gardenwinkle and her best friend Mrs. Triumph, at the Bedhead Hills Wasp and Skeet-Shoot Club

What I wore: I was warned in advance by Mrs. Gardenwinkle that the Bedhead Hills Wasp and Skeet-Shoot Club has a “no jeans” rule in the dining room, but I had a lesson scheduled after lunch so I wore my riding clothes, consisting of freshly cleaned tall dress boots (courtesy of the expert polishing skills of the Bacon Provider), safari tan full-seat Pikeur breeches, black long-sleeved Ralph Lauren polo shirt, new Ibex zippered cardigan sweater, Baker-plaid-trimmed barn coat, black and white check scarf.

What I did beforehand: baked bread (I made the dough the night before)
Why I went: A number of Mrs. Gardenwinkle‘s year-end tax items came to the house, and I mailed them to her at her new condo. In return, I got a nice card in the mail, with her thanks, and the invitation to join her and a friend for lunch; she had written her email address in cursive just before she signed off, suggesting I reply that way.

A hand-written card from the previous owner

Where I sat: in the seat I was offered, with the view of the covered patio and golf course

Things that were sad: my hosts greeted our server by his first name; his mechanical smile and polite reply reminded me of the obsequious servers at Busch’s Grove, back in the St. Louis I grew up in, where white people felt no obligation to pretend not to be paternalistic in their racism. 

Things that were funny: the wallpaper in the Ladies Lounge; listening to Mrs. Triumph and Mrs. Gardenwinkle talk about the Republican presidential candidates; the story of the homeless man in the Bedhead Hills Library 

Things that were not funny: See “Things that were funny” and “Things that were sad.”

What it is: I had a salad with grilled salmon on it. It was just the right size fillet and it was  perfectly cooked. The cookie was smallish but freshly baked so the chocolate was melted. The cappuccino was made by one of those do-it-all machines, topped with a bland froth of tasteless milk foam and a tell-tale brown dot of machine-drizzled espresso in the middle. 

Who should see it: I hope they invite me to something again. Mrs. Gardenwinkle isn’t much like my mom (her taste is more like my mom’s mom’s), but they’d be the same age if my mom was alive.

What I saw on the way home: cars and trucks and bare naked trees

What I forgot to tell you: It’s been bothering me for more than two weeks– something discussed at lunch but I couldn’t remember. Somehow it came out of the conversation about the Broadway smash-hit “Hamilton,” but I didn’t remember until yesterday. Mrs. Triumph was describing how to get tickets for a matinee, and Mrs. Gardenwinkle was saying that she’d heard it made sense to get the assisted hearing device because, “There are just so many words!” The topic then shifted to the ten dollar bill, with Hamilton’s picture on it, and the possibility of a new design with a woman on the ten or the twenty, and Mrs. Gardenwinkle said, with feeling, “It’s such nonsense! Why do they have to go and change who’s on the dollars!?”

I’ve been stewing about it ever since, wondering what might make the most convincing argument. I said nothing at the time, though I’d like a bill with an American woman on it, and I think when we get one I will go to the bank to get a whole stack of them, to give out as tips. 

Out to Lunch

The point when I realized the A train wasn’t coming was after the third, loud and completely unintelligible announcement at the Chambers station. I turned to a guy next to me, and he said, “We gotta take the E,” and he started walking to the other end of the platform. I followed, but saw that I also had the option of the 2 or the 3, so I followed the signs through the labyrinth and got on an uptown 2.
“Next Stop, Chambers Street,” was what the announcement said, and then, “Stand clear of the closing doors.”
I had walked from the Chambers Street station of the A, C and E to the Park Place 2 and 3, and now I would be completing the triangle of no progress, more or less. I sat through the Chambers Street stop, and as the doors closed again, it said, “Next stop, 14th Street.”
I had wanted West 4th, which is a local stop on the red line, so I was going to overshoot my stop and be even later for my lunch date.
I don’t have many lunch dates in New York City, because I have about as many people to see for lunch as I have fingers on my left hand. Most New Yorkers have real jobs, too, so they don’t really have time for lunch. Not that I ever aspired to be someone who goes out to lunch all the time. Wasn’t that a thing, “Ladies Who Lunch?” Isn’t that something I never wanted to be?
Express trains are good for crying, because you aren’t interrupted by lots of people getting on and off, especially if you’ve had a rough morning, and a migraine pill, and some meanness you tried and failed to correct on Twitter.
I got out at 14th Street and headed to a southern exit onto West 13th Street. I made my way down two short blocks to West 11th and then made a bad turn and went two long blocks the wrong way. Asking Google maps where the restaurant was, I discovered I was now a half a mile from my destination, on foot. I called my friend, and she was very understanding, even about hating New York. “I don’t just want to live someplace else,” I said to her. “I want to burn the whole place down.”
She replied, “That’ll take some time.”


Lunch was brief and delicious and fun. I am grateful for my five fingers’ worth of New York City friends, even if I’ve borrowed them from other people or from other lifetimes. She directed me, squaring my shoulders even, and pointed me back to the 1. Even I can get the 1 right. It’s a local train.
On the platform I was asked by a confused and distraught traveller how to get on the 2 or the 3 going uptown. I explained that he could go out and up and cross the street and go down and swipe again or get on this train and switch at another station. As I did this, my train arrived, and as I stepped towards it the doors closed for it to leave.
Make no mistake: New Yorkers in general are helpful and kind and will give directions and shortcuts. But in an urban area with 17.8 million people, even if only 1% of them are complete assholes, that makes 178,000 complete assholes, and some of them might drive subway trains.
On impulse, I tossed my jacket between the closing doors of the subway train, the way you might interrupt the closing doors on an elevator. This is a stupid, dangerous thing to do because doors in New York City subway trains don’t work the way they do on elevators. They close on your coat or your bag or your hair or your purse or your arm, and then the train leaves. The driver had seen me helping that other passenger and saw me do the jacket toss, too. The door opened and I got on.
The other people already on the car might have had faces filled with concern or scorn or derision or relief, but I don’t know because I didn’t look at them. I focused on my phone and played Bejeweled, because no one needs scolding by strangers, and especially not today.
When I got off the subway, I was looking forward to a quiet afternoon writing in the apartment. From the 1 to our apartment it’s only a few blocks, and those blocks aren’t the most unpleasant in TriBeCa. As I walked, I fired off a couple of tweets about the subway train driver’s incivility and how I almost sacrificed my jacket to the 1 train, and I found myself distracted by a man standing on the curb, half-facing me, pantomiming pecking at an imaginary phone in his hand and making terrible creepy cheeping noises.  He said something derisive in his heavily French-accented English.
If my phone came with a flame-thrower app, I might be in jail right now.

A Pluto Story: Lunches

Pluto used to sit in the living room looking out on our street through a large window. In an urban neighborhood like ours, the houses are old and in need of attention. Pluto was quite aware that our block was attended to by an army of painters, plumbers, exterminators, gutter and window cleaners, carpenters, electricians, appliance repairmen, in addition to the regular landscape workers and housekeepers.  Typically, subcontractors drive a pick-up truck with a topper on the bed, they show up for work around 7 am, they knock off for the day around 3 pm, and they eat lunch and make calls in their vehicles.  The ubiquity of this vehicle, and the predictable temperament of a subcontractor in the Pacific Northwest being a somewhat outdoorsy guy who enjoys the company of a hunting dog, meant that it was in Pluto’s interests to be aware of the comings and goings of these guys.  Pluto knew that if he could slip out the front door when I brought in the morning paper, waiting on the front seat of the pick-up with the door left ajar while its owner carried in some tools was a sandwich and piece of fruit. Pluto didn’t mind eating the wrapper around the sandwich, either, and enjoyed an apple or banana almost as much as the sandwich.

I worried actively that he would be discovered in the act of stealing food, and either make someone very mad or get himself dog-napped.  But it never happened.