SUMMER SUNDAYS IN NEW YORK
Jackie Mason used to say that if a Jew couldn’t afford a Mercedes and was questioned as to why didn’t have one he would always respond, “You think I would be caught dead in a German car?”
And then the reverse would happen: if he could afford to buy one and someone asked “How can you, a Jew, drive a German car?” He would respond, “They’re the safest car on the road, better I should I die in crash?”
There is a version of this that takes place outside the jokesphere when New Yorkers who don’t go away on summer weekends are questioned as to why – they always have the same response, “Why? There is nothing better than New York on a summer weekend. The movies are empty, the museums aren’t crowded, and you can get into any restaurant you want. Plus all the horrible people have gone to the country.”
Now being one of the horrible people who normally goes away on summer weekends, I sometimes wonder if the self-proclaimed city lovers are covering for the fact the don’t have a summer house or haven’t been invited to someone else’s.
I remember when I was in my twenties, boyfriendless, summer shareless, and not often invited out to other’s houses, sort of dreading the long, hot weekends when it felt like everyone was gone and I was the only one in town.
But looking at it now I think that it had more to do with youth and the need for endless stimulation, that feeling (you eventually get over with age) that you might be missing out on something. And the constant worrying one would be alone forever; destined to live a life of Sunday matinees and walks in the park looking at all the happy couples with their babies. For me, in my twenties that troika of misery ruined many a summer Sunday.
The truth is the empty New York can be a great place, and there is a ton to do. You can get in anywhere and do anything.
Today we had a summer Sunday in the city and you know it was just great.
My exercise class had five people as opposed to the usual twenty-five or thirty-five for the same class on a summer Sunday in Bridgehampton.
We got into a restaurant we love, but on the weekends is always too crowded, Bella Blu on Lexington. We even got a table in the window. Usually you have to wait forty-five minutes just to be crammed in the back.
Then we went to two amazing exhibitions that were both almost deserted: The Buddhism Pilgrimage exhibition at the Asia Society, and the Christian Boltanski installation at the Armory. Both of them mesmerizing and memorable; both about to close in the next few weeks. If you can sneak away during the week or find yourself one of the lucky ones who are in town next weekend you should go.
Coming out of the Asia Society I almost literally ran into that New Yorker who never leaves if he doesn’t have to, Woody Allen. He truly is an advertisement for being unapologetic about never wanting to leave the pavement.
And then, then, my favorite coffee spot, Nespreso, where it is literally impossible to find a seat on the weekend, unless you want to wait for an hour or come back, but even then they give your seat away – I’ve tried it – they were empty. EMPTY. We had a coffee and Lucy had dessert. There were not twenty people crammed in the doorway waiting for a table and giving us that “Will you just pay your bill and get up already” look. Don’t you hate that look? I must confess I’ve been known to give it, actually I’m quite good at it.
We walked home, no crowds or parades; the apartment was quiet even though we live in what can be a noisy neighborhood and we read the paper and went to an early dinner in yet another normally packed place. It was all easy and peaceful and pleasant something New York so seldom is.
And trust me next Sunday when we are stuck on the LIE bumper to bumper and it takes six hours to get from The East End back to the city I’m going to be wishing I was in a quiet air conditioned restaurant or had a movie theatre to myself.