I've been wanting to tell you for a little while now about the perfect New York day I enjoyed last week but first, an update: my mother just called to tell me that the glass snowman who for the past decade has topped our Christmas tree had committed suicide.
"It was the strangest thing," she said. "It was like he leapt to his death. And I had been thinking lately that I didn't love him, that I wanted to replace him with a pineapple. And it's as if he felt that. And I needed to learn a lesson about taking things for granted."
I said we would not know the full meaning of the sacrifice, or whether it was senseless, until the replacement comes to life. But it's all very Hans Christian Anderson.
So: Sunday. I went to church. I am not, as anyone who's seen my last name might infer, a baptized Christian, but periodically I've gone to services with my mother, and I very much like the idea of living the year by a liturgical calendar. St. Thomas has beautiful music and the best WASPs. This January, I want to finally take the Christian education class - for those interested in the church, or in joining the church - to learn a bit more and also to hopefully tackle some of my real questions about the ideology, as I don't want to have such profound confusion about a big part of my future husband's life, and family.
I'll not say much about the service save that, on the way out, one guy said to the greeting minister, "Father, haven't seen you lately at the New York Health and Racquet Club!" It was a beautiful day, and waking down Fifth Avenue seemed to me the most wonderful thing in the world to be doing, the many tourists the most interesting and finest group of people I'd ever seen. I went down the street with a huge grin on my face, to 55th, and as my mother and I always did, went into La Bonne Soupe. I was alone, but it's a great place to eat alone, and indeed several of the small tables were occupied by dignified solo lunchers, including one elderly gent brandishing a large hardcover. I ordered a croque monsieur and a glass of house white, and opened my book, but I was too interested in the goings-on of the restaurant to do more than read one paragraph over and over. At length, the older couple at the next table engaged me - she, it turned out, was from Quebec and her gentleman friend a New Yorker originally from London - and by the meal's end we were fast friends who'd traded book and restauarnt and life advice and email addresses into the bargain.
When I left, the old gent with the hardcover was standing outside, and he beckoned me over, said I seemed full of life, and would I get a drink with him some time at the same restaurant. I said it depended on his intentions and my liveliness varied with the tides, but that I was always game for a new friend. "I'm old enough to be your grandfather!" he said, reassuringly, and, I suppose to further reassure me, he produced a business card which identified him as a Ph.D, and the hardcover which, it proved, was written by him and with which, one presumes, he travels. Needless to say, we're having a glass of wine at the same restaurant early in the new year.
As to the rest, well, I browsed hats at Bendels and saw the Robert Frank show at the Met. (In the words of Kerouac, "Robert Frank, you got eyes.") I made mac and cheese, with tomatoes and some leftover Christmas ham. And that night, Slim got back and my idyll was over, not that we don't have adventures of another kind.