It did cross our minds, the idea of not going. But this was back in the third week of February, before toilet paper became more precious than gold. We had plans, tickets for events, hadn’t been in the city since last fall. So off we went.
Now at home with every meal consumed at the kitchen table and entertainment limited to stupid pet tricks, we reminisce fondly about every event and every restaurant visit we enjoyed. Of which, of course, there were many…
We started with a new favorite, Indian Accent on 56th Street. Nothing like any other Indian cuisine you’ve ever had. The place was packed – I remember thinking, well, I guess no one in NYC is worried about this virus thing.
It was only with passing concern that we attended a crowded matinée performance of the new West Side Story revival on Broadway.
Lobster and pasta for dinner afterward at Nocello on 55th. Place was so packed we were shoe-horned in to a table in a back room.
But the next day, after a lovely lunch at our beloved Café Boulud (Veal Milanese for me, and oh those madeleines at the end…)
we hesitated about our plan to take a tour of the Greek and Roman antiquities collection at the Met. Was it a good idea to stand in a huddle of tourists? Fortunately, our group numbered only a half dozen. Not that many takers for admiring oenochoe, kouros etc. So that wasn’t so bad, we thought, nothing really to worry about. On we went to our scheduled dinner with Daniel and Freddy at Balthazar. Salman Rushdie was sitting in the booth behind us, and he didn’t look worried, so why should we, right?
That weekend we trekked over to Brooklyn for dinner with Daniel and his friends, stopping by his apartment first to say hello to Dante and Sandro. More about those two later…
Things seemed peaceful enough that weekend. The weather was spectacular and we were so happy to be there to see spring begin to unfold.
But something else was unfolding. By the last week of February, there had been a run on hand sanitizer. Not a drop to be found in any drugstore. Yes, soap and water is just fine, but when you are on the go in NYC for hours at a time, hand sanitizer is a must. Little pangs of panic started to build. Should we cancel plans? Should we just head home?
In the end, we just went to lunch and buried our heads in Oeuf à la Neige. Majorelle, a place I’d been wanting to try on the UES. Such a charming setting in the Lowell Hotel on E. 63rd:
And we went to 54 Below that evening to enjoy the lovely Nicole Henry singing Whitney Houston. If you ever have the chance, go see her!
We knew the next day, however, that something was wrong when we were able to make a last-minute lunch reservation at the Central Park Boathouse. And especially when we arrived late and still snagged a pond-view table. Usually you wait in line just to get in the door. The tourists had definitely deserted the city. It felt just ever so slightly like having a last lunch on the Titanic.
We agonized over our plans. Daniel had given us coveted tickets to the NY Philharmonic that week, and we also had tickets to the opera. In the end, we did both, with the caveat that if anyone seated near us coughed we were out of there. No one dared.
The Debussey/Ravel/Scriabin program was divine,
as was Der Fliegende Hollander. Our first Wagner opera – and we survived!
Daniel had also given us tickets to the Armory Show, which we were so looking forward to. But by the end of the first week in March, the idea of going to an art show boasting “10,000 attendees a day with exhibitors from 31 countries” did not sound like a good idea for us oldsters. We had a lovely brunch with he and Freddy at The Smith,
walked them over to the show at Pier 92, and said our farewells. At that point we were still hearing that “young people don’t get the virus” so we encouraged them to go.
We flew home the next day. Delta Sky Lounge at JFK was basically deserted.
Our pilot personally strode the aisles of the plane thanking everyone for flying. The next day Delta, and all the other airlines, started canceling flights. We made it home just under the wire. We’ve passed the two-week mark and remain, gratefully, healthy.
But it quickly became apparent that NYC was under siege. The “work from home” order went into place. Daniel, Freddy and their third roommate found it overly cozy in their Brooklyn apartment. I think it was Dante and Sandro who whispered in Daniel’s ear that they needed some space. Cats are the ultimate survivors. Guess who now has a Central Park view?
Everyone is now praying for everyone, I know, but if you can spare an extra one, please send it up that our guys in the city and Taylor in SF can be safe amidst the storm.
Be well, everyone.