Sunday, 2 March 2008

Twinkly eyed smiles

So, despite a very perturbing start, what with Sassy’s comparisons of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke to Clay Aiken, it turned out to be a lovely old weekend.

Before I go on I have to stop and ask you readers, what are your thoughts…separated at birth????

Not at all right? How could Sassy suggest such a thing? Tsk, honestly!! I think someone needs her eyes testing ;-)

By God that photo of Clay (that’s the guy on the RIGHT obviously) is disturbing. Just look at the
Val Doonican style jumper. Hideous!!

So, I hope you Brits living away from the UK didn’t forget that today was Mother’s Day back in the homeland!! It was a week or two early this year, so a little easier to miss. Each year at the office there’s usually a flurry of emails between the Brits reminding each other of its approach, but this year nothing, so I hope they all remembered. It’s not until May in the US you see – Father's Day is the same date as the UK, but Mother’s Day is different for some reason – so there are no window displays weeks in advance to remind you to buy a card and order flowers.

Touch wood I haven’t forgotten it yet and was organised enough to sort a bouquet from M&S a few weeks back - Mother's Day is so early this year they were still selling flowers for St Valentines when I ordered - so my mother received her bouquet this morning. There were lots of “Oh you shouldn’t haves” when I spoke to her later in the day, but I could tell she was secretly thrilled.

Weekend wise it was another quiet one which I’m thankful for as I have some busy ones ahead what with Ash’s hen party next weekend and then her wedding at the end of the month. My only plan this weekend was dinner and drinks with my neighbour, Betsy, on Saturday night. As we met quite early, straight after Betsy’s dance class, I suggested we try our luck at
Kingswood, a cosy looking restaurant at 121 W 10th St Greenwich Ave, which I’d passed several times over the last few weeks. I'd looked it up and was intrigued when I read the chefs previously worked at Rick Stein’s – a well known British chef – much lauded seafood restaurant in Cornwall. We didn’t have a reservation, but as it was only 7pm we popped in on the off chance they might have a table.

“You’re in luck” beamed the rather attractive and charming British host. “Had you come in 5minutes later I would have probably had to say no, but if you’d like to come this way.”


The host seated us at a table on the side wall and two tables down I picked out the fashion designer Betsy Johnson. She’s got a hair cut that’s hard to miss that one.

I loved the restaurant; it could definitely become a new favourite. The décor is so warm and inviting with Red Admiral butterflies dotting the ceiling, the lighting beautifully flattering – everyone in there looked drop dead gorgeous – and service that was casually friendly, but very attentive. Oh, and the food, my God, I will remember the taste of the striped bass I had for quite sometime to come, it was divine!!

It was still early when we left the restaurant so we walked along 10th street to
Employees Only at 510 Hudson for a post dinner cocktail. I love Employees Only, the cocktails are great and the service is top notch, but admittedly it can be a bit of a meet market come 9pm on a Saturday night. It’s fine if you have a seat at the bar, but not so much fun if you are only 5ft 1, like me, and standing face to elbow with the heaving throng!! There’s many a time I’ve walked in, only to walk straight back out and head down to LelaBar on the corner of Hudson and Leroy for a glass of wine instead, but it wasn’t so bad when we arrived around 8:15pm, so we decided to stay for a drink.

As I walked in, the bartender waved and smiled a hello and my knees weakened slightly as I smiled and waved a greeting in return. Employees Only is the closest I’ve ever come to regular status at bar in New York – I love that I am greeted like an old friend when I walk in, it makes me feel like Norm on Cheers - due to the fact that about a year and a half ago I was in there 4times in the space of a week. I know I know, I'm a big lush. Actually it wasn’t my fault at all, I lay the blame entirely at the feet of my friend Nick who was visiting from London. He arrived late on the Saturday and was staying with a gay friend of ours who, at the time, lived with his boyfriend in the West Village. Nick loves himself a cocktail, and as Employees Only was a mere stone’s throw from our friend’s apartment I suggested we meet there for a drink and a catch up on Sunday evening. We had a lovely time chit chatting over Kir Royales.

I’d taken the day off work on the Monday to hang out with Nick, so we met for a leisurely breakfast at Balthazar and then blitzed our Christmas shopping in SoHo before heading up to Bryant Park for a twirl around the free ice rink. Afterwards we were ready for refreshments and Nick decided he wanted to try a proper martini. I rattled off a few suggestions of bars we could go to.

“Well, what about that place we were at last night? I really liked it in there.”

Fine by me. We hopped on the F train and headed downtown for martinis

“It’s just a bloody big glass of vodka” was Nick’s reaction to his first martini.

“Yup, it is. Well, there’s a smidgen of vermouth and a twist of lemon too, but yes, it’s mostly vodka. Don’t you have even more admiration for James Bond fighting the bad guys after a couple of these? Can you believe that in the heyday of advertising, business people were renowned for their three martini lunches? After just one of these I feel the need for a nap.”

Friday night was Nick’s last evening in town and as his so-called host had planned a romantic evening in with his boyfriend – can you believe he did that when he had a guest in town sleeping on the sofa bed in his living room? Could he not have waited until the Saturday, when Nick would have left, to have his romantic evening? I chuffing well think so. I hate to speak ill of a friend of mine, but he’s clueless as a host he really is – Nick needed to make his self scarce, so he and I planned to meet at 7pm and go out for dinner and drinks. This time I was determined to steer him towards somewhere new; but my plan was thwarted when I received the following text from him around 6.30pm

“On my way to that employee bar. Meet you in there. N”

Again? Oh for God’s sake, I’d created a monster.

The truth came out when I arrived at the bar and spotted Nick hunched over a barstool sipping a Cosmopolitan. I do love that for a big hetero guy – he’s 6ft 4 and built like the proverbial brick outhouse – Nick is unafraid of ordering a girlie pink drink. He does love a Cosmo that one, whereas I, a petite and fairly girly girl, am much more likely to be ordering a whiskey. They always mix up our drink orders in bars. He'd decided to seek the sanctuary of the bar when, on arriving back at our friend's apartment it was to find our friend’s boyfriend lounging around the apartment dressed only in his boxer shorts and Nick felt more than a little uncomfortable at seeing quite so much of him.

“I was out all day and thought he would have got dressed by the time I got back. He was like that this morning. I’ve spent a week walking around New York, my feet ache. I was hoping to stay in and relax a bit this morning, have a cup of coffee and read the papers, but I didn’t feel comfortable with him dressed in just his underwear, so I went out. I’ve been walking around all day in the freezing cold. When I got back and he still hadn’t got dressed I stayed for 10minutes before deciding I’d come here and have a drink.”


Nick flew home on Saturday afternoon, but that evening he was replaced by my friend Shafi who was in town briefly from London on business. As well as visiting me he’d planned to catch up with another friend of his who was in town from Boston with his wife and another couple.

“I’ve arranged to meet them at 9pm in a bar called Employees Only. Do you know it?”

I couldn’t believe it.

I got quite the welcome from the bartenders that evening.

I didn’t go back to the bar for about 6months after that, there are too many great places to discover in New York to keep returning to the same place time after time, but it is one of my favourites and no matter how many months it’s been one of the bartender still remembers me and gives me a wink and a big smile when I go in. More often than not he’s the reason I return. The man is sex on a stick, a tall, skinny, sexy, Eastern European, twinkling brown eyed stick. Sigh. Great hair too, he’s a man that wears a well tended sideburn extremely well. I love a well tended sideburn!!

I’m quite smitten from a distance.

Given his warm and friendly manner towards me, and my attraction to him, a few of my friends have been trying to push me to pop in on a quieter night and chat him up, however, to put it mildly, I’m a little reticent because…well, let’s face facts, he’s a bartender. He’s PAID to be nice to people and I’m not convinced that his obvious pleasure at seeing me walk into his bar is anything beyond a warm welcome to a semi-regular customer. Besides, damn sexy as he is, I quite enjoy just exchanging sparkly eyed smiles with him. I’d rather not take it further and ask him out, only to discover he’s married or gay or whatever. That would ruin my fun. Ignorance is most definitely bliss in this instance.

When I got home I found a card from Catweazle (my date formerly known as Bill) waiting for me in my postbox. I was surprised – I’d kind of given up on hearing from him again and had chalked up our fabulous date to a nice day out – and thrilled to hear from him again. He sent me a card with a photograph of a garden in North Carolina and wrote inside that after I’d mentioned my love of stationery – I'm a complete stationery fiend I really am; I don’t tend to buy it so much, but I love all the paraphernalia that goes along with writing by hand. It’s only relatively recently that I’ve stopped writing in ink pen. If I do say so myself I have fabulous handwriting and I love the way it looks in ink, but if you spill coffee on it you’re screwed. I could easily bankrupt myself in
Kate’s Paperie - he decided to pay a visit to a store he knew in North Carolina to pick up a card especially for me which feature photos by a local photographer.

I was touched, I thought that was such a sweet gesture. It was also really nice to receive something in the post that wasn't a bill or a catalogue. It's the small things that can be the most heart warming.

Anyway I’m going to stop here and finish watching “To Catch a Thief” that I DVR’d a few weeks ago. I had to stop it as the girls upstairs from me were making a lot of noise earlier and it was disrupting my enjoyment of Cary Grant. Don't you just LOVE him!!! There were a lot of heavy dragging noises going on. It kind of sounded as if they might have been moving a body*!! Btw check out the pic below for one of Cary’s outfits in the film. Do you think a straight man could carry off that get up in this day and age? A red polka dot ascot? I don't think so.

*but then I’ve always had something of an overly active imagination when it comes to things that go bump in the night.


sid said...

I know exactly what you mean. I love getting things in the post. I love getting hand written letters. But I especially love getting postcards. If I could I would coerce various people into sending me postcards.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Sid, it's nice isn't it? We're so used to doing everything online that it's a lovely surprise to receive something handwritten. Have a great day.

Flowers On A Friday said...

what a great post. for a moment i was actually there in the bar.

i love the idea of getting postcards in the post and even more the idea of looking through them years from now when they are slightly worn and faded. wonderful.

i so very nearly bought a handful of postcards when i was in krakow last weekend. i'll do it next time.

way to motivate, fish!

have fun guys

Kitty said...

That's really nice about the letter. hm!!!

hm!!! I agree, it is the little things. And the big things, too.

Haven't heard of Employees Only or the restaurant, but I always get lost on W10th. I'll have to check it out.

have a great Monday, Fish!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Flowers, thanks for the compliment, you made my day. Glad I've inspired you to send some postcards, it really is lovely to receive something through the post. I'm also the type to keep them and look at them in years to come. I'm a pack rat in that respect.

Hey Kitty, Kingswood is fairly new, I think it opened in September. It's really nice and not too pricey. I think the most expensive dish was $25. As for Employees Only, well it's a lovely old style bar, but it gets mobbed on weekends, so earlier in the week is best to enjoy a quiet drink.

Bangs and a Bun said...

Oh my God - Catweazle is the nicest guy ever! I've always said I will always prefer getting a letter in the mail to an email in my inbox. I love love love writing letters and love to have fancy stationary to do it on. Getting a card like that would have absolutely made my day. How lovely.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Bangs & A Bun, I know, wasn't that sweet of him. I had the warm and fuzzies all day on Sunday after receiving his card.

Sister Sassy said...

I laughed my ass off when I saw your post today!

I have to say getting a hand written something in the mail is way better than email or a phone call. Letter writing is like a lost art.

Sounds like that restaurant was thing I miss when living in a small town.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Sassy, I've been waiting for you to spot this post all day ha ha!! I could not resist after all those Clay comparisons to the talented Thom ;-)

You are right, letter writing is a lost art, email just isn't the same. Have a good week. Fish x

Blur Ting said...

Oh, I love this post. You're a fascinating writer and I'm quite smitten.

SO many things to say...
you're so good to your mum (that's the way we spell it, like the British). I must be nice to mine too come Mother's Day in May.

I guess being an English girl living in NY, you'll always have visitors in town and feel the need to show them around..which is a good thing. I would love to do the same too. You're a good host but I pity your poor friend Nick who has to see a gay man walking around in his boxers all night. Not exactly very pleasant I would imagine.

I laughed at your description of the 'sex on a stick' bartender. Ah, how nice it feels when someone can make your heart flutter. I do miss those heady days of infatuation.

And that sweet Bill who sent you that postcard. He's smitten I can see. For a man to take the trouble to remember what you fancy and actually do something about it, I'd say he's thinking of you :-)

Ah, life is looking good for you, you little English lady.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Blur Ting, wow, thanks so much, you are so complimentary. You've made my day :-)

I agree that life is looking good right now. I have a spring in my step :-)

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