New York City is full of unique and strange characters. It's one of my favorite things about the city, and it's difficult to explain to people who haven't spent a lot of time amongst the weird masses.

When my man comes to town, we've developed a sweet habit of going to one really good restaurant. A complete splurge on good wine, serious food, and all around goodness is to be had. Part of the reason I enjoy this so much is that I get to witness someone who is infamous for his lack of culinary experimentation, actually eat some weird stuff. A couple of glasses of wine, and really, that stubborn steak-and-green bean-eater can be persuaded into eating all kinds of food. I don't think there's a whole lot about this area that he thinks is worth residing in all the time (except ME), but the helps to make a case for how good it is around here.

This past visit, we went to Centro Vinoteca, the yummy restaurant of Mario Batali's long time protégé, Anne Burrell. The food was delicious, the wine was great, but both were overshadowed, just slightly, by one man.

As we walked into the space, we passed the spiky-haired Burrell, peering out from the open kitchen, and made our way through the crowd. As we approached, we found a spot at the semi-circular bar. Sitting smack dab in the middle was a guy in his 50's, swaying slightly in his chair, as he commanded the attention of the bartender. When she glanced our way to see what we wanted, he swiveled around, and thus, the interview began.

"Well, hello. Aren't you faaaabulous! Is this your boyfriend?"

"Yes it is"

"You lucky man! When are you going to marry this beautiful girl? You remind me of someone...Audrey Hepburn! I must buy you a drink."

It should be noted that all flamboyantly gay men, especially above the age of 40, love to compare all petite brunette women to Audrey Hepburn. So while the comparison is flattering, it's also a little bit generic in this situation. Still, he certainly had our attention, because we couldn't have avoided it if we tried. He was also extremely entertaining, so we stood, drank some wine, and listened as he told us about...pretty much everything.

Our new friend was either highly delusional or extremely wealthy and well-connected. Names were dropped, stories of rowdy celebrity parties ending in head trauma, his current HIV status (positive, if you must know) information was too much information. He was the world champion of sharing. He also took the time to give relationship advice, mostly to the boyfriend, who was nodding along and being forced, oh-so-gently, to agree on every point.

Even after the hostess told us our table was ready, we were finding it difficult to find enough space in the conversation to politely excuse ourselves. One story just flowed into the next, and from the looks of both the bartender and the woman trying to lead us up the stairs to our awaiting table, this was not an uncommon occurrence. He was definitely a regular.

My man is not exactly a wall flower. He has plenty to say, all of the time, and this was the only time I've seen him completely out-talked. He's also Midwestern, and therefore, insanely polite. It's one of his more charming qualities, because despite his penchant for offensive jokes and emphatic hatred of douchebaggery, when he's in a social situation, he is extremely gracious. I had to finally drag him away, thanking our eccentric bar buddy for the drink, but explaining that I was just starving. During our conversation, a cute young girl who had obviously just come from her dinner came over and said goodbye to him. We were clearly not the first friends he embraced that night.

He is a prime example of the best of New York. He was sweet and hilarious, and one of those people I can't imagine meeting anywhere else. The restaurant is a good one, and if you go there, you will almost definitely find him as a fixture at the bar. I highly recommend stopping by and having a glass of wine with him.


Wheezy said...

Yay! You wrote about the hiv guy!

Don't forget that he also whipped out a picture of himself (he claims) dressed up to look like Elizabeth Taylor. The picture was only a partial picture as somebody that was most likely him had cut out the remaining people in the picture using a rough half-moon cut. He keeps this odd half-picture in his wallet at all times, I guess.

At pretty much any point of any conversation we were having (or rather, he was having with us) he would inevitably stop, look back at Elizabeth as if she'd just walked up, and say "Oh my god, you're gorgeous!"

Also it's pretty impressive to be that level of regular when the place hasn't been open all that long.

The gays. Is there anything they can't do?

Jeff Cutler said...

I'm not ignoring your story, but let me tell you about the pigs at the NY State fair.

OK. I won't post the whole story here, but will let you go look at bowl of cheese to see what all the fuss is about.

Also, I think you're both FAB and should tie the knot in a Liz Tayloresque mess of extravagance and lust.

**Also set up as a writing exercise site in case you want to drop the hot tools and use a cool keyboard.

Let me know where you're registered. I'm guessing Williams Sonoma.



sitboaf said...

Oh, snap!
You remind ME of Judy Garland, and there's just no debating it.