February 13, 2005

The Last Lunch

In NYC, the pre-sales event was a LUNCH.

Dinners are easier. At dinner, everyone is in their HOME clothes and off the clock and it's leisurely and more WINE-laden. At lunches (I have learned on this tour) people might have meetings to go to later, they have power ties and briefcases, and you know how easily intimidated I am by that sort of thing --- remember my Boardroom Induced Nervous Prostration at the Warner building? Yeah. Okay. So. Lunches are more likely to be like that.

BUT IT WAS GOOD. Book people in power ties, I have discovered, are still BOOK people---funny, smart, well-read, charming---and the RESTAURANT was, bar none, the best restaurant in the universe. Period. Forever. It wins.

The food was sublime, but that isn't why. In fact I had a minor RUN-IN with the food. I ordered the tenderloin, which came on a bed of greens with potato risotto (!!!) and THAT was FAB, but beside the meat there was little ROUND slice of something that looked like maybe a heart of palm or a slice of a pale root veggie. The woman beside me, more experienced in NYC cuisine than I, was looking at it with a jaundiced eye, and she made NO MOVE to eat it. I should have heeded the small inner voice that said, 'WHEN IN ROME, do not eat that which is troubling to the Romans,' but alas, I did not.

"I wonder what that is?" she said.
I cut a hunk off and said, "Maybe a turnip?"

Just as she repeated her question to the waiter, I popped the bite into my mouth. It was...cool and gelatinous and it...pulsed. I held it whole in my mouth, panicking, as the waiter said (in a voice that I retrospectively feel was INAPPROPRIATELY CHEERFUL), "Oh, that's some delicious bone marrow! It COMPLIMENTS the meat!" Maybe so, but I prefer a simple, "Meat, how charming you look in that morel sauce," as a compliment. I swallowed the gobbet of (YARK!) bone marrow, swallowed it WHOLE, and dived DEEP into my wine glass. I refused to emerge 'til I was POSITIVE my inner stomach-waiter wasn't going to send the (YARK! YARK!) bone marrow back, as it were, to the kitchen.

MARROW ASIDE, I WAS a little nervous at first---lunchophobia---and it showed I think, because I knocked my fork off the table. ABOUT ONE HUNDRED TIMES.

And here is why the restaurant wins forever. The wait staff was FANTASTIC and acted as if it was NORMAL and RIGHT for a patron to be hurling cutlery to the ground every 20 seconds and then desperately kicking her MULTITUDE of dropped forks under the table. One of them would just GHOST UP and invisibly insert a new fork where the old fork had been. And then, of course, I would knock THAT one down and kick it under the table, and so on, and so on, forks without end, amen, and I am sure this would have gone on ad infinitum except that everyone there was, well, book people. So I got sucked into the conversation and very quickly started having a really good time and forgot to hurl my silverware. SO all is well that ends well, and I only hope the maitre d didn't have to send a waiter sprinting off to Neiman Marcus for extra forks since most of theirs were under the table stabbing my ankle every time I forgot they were there and got excited and bounced my feet around.

And that was it---thus endeth the pre-sales tour. I am SO SO happy to be home...but...but...it is like my editor told me...nothing like this will ever happen to me again, because even if it does, I won't experience it in the same way. I realized how RIGHT she was when I was walking down the streets of MANHATTAN on the way to this last lunch, MANHATTAN! a MYTHOLOGICAL place that only a year ago I secretly thought was really a LOT in L.A. that someone invented so they could film Sex and the City, a completely FICTIONAL MAGIC-LAND where BOOKS get bought and published. It was NEVER real to me, even after I had been there a week! But this was my fourth trip, and I had been to CT and Boston and was jet lagged and I smelled like a cab. I trudged down The Avenue of the Americas staring at my feet and I DID NOT NOTICE I was in Manhattan! I had lost that breathless giddy THRILL I used to get just OGGLING the REAL! NEW! YORK! It had become a part of what I do... Wonderful, yes, exciting, yes, but the new had come off it, and New York City is a real place now.

When I realized what was happening, I threw my head back and looked up at the mighty buildings and the herds of wild cabs roaming free and the women in their fantastical shoes and breathed in the living smell of the city. In this way I managed to catch it again, that nerve-strumming thrill, felt it move through me and leave me, reminding me of the tail end of a first real kiss. I got tickled with myself, with my melodramatic need to make-out with the city, to "have a moment," as they say. I laughed out loud and my editor and publicist looked at me, raising their eyebrows, and I said, "It's just...I'm in New York." They nodded and we kept walking, my editor flagging a cab, and I thought to myself, "OH! PONYBOY! I WANT TO STAY GOLD!"
But you can't, you know. You really can't.

Posted by joshilyn at February 13, 2005 2:36 PM

Very happy for you Joshilyn! The best part is that you realize the temporary joy of the FIRST TIME and just enjoy it!

Plus it's probably more enjoyable then many other FIRST TIMES... wink wink nudge nudge knowhatimeanknowwhatimean

Posted by: Heather McCutcheon at February 13, 2005 3:53 PM

You know bone marrow's good for you, right? :)

Posted by: Kitty at February 14, 2005 4:23 AM

Bone marrow may be good, but a little too in-your-face-you-know-you're-eating-a-dead-animal's-bones-don't-you?-kind-of-thing. At least they coulda put some sauce on it or some such. (Next "they'll" have you sampling a ruby throated song bird's vocal cords...or trembling pink brains...be wary).

I'm glad you caught yourself in New York. To look up and realize where you are is a great thing wherever you are, but in New York...a wet electric charge can jolt through your bones. To know that you're in the land of Cheever and Salinger and Irving and King and Chabon and...and...James is an amazing thing.

Rock on Joshilyn!

Posted by: Waylon at February 14, 2005 9:51 AM

I so love "The Outsiders."

Posted by: Linda Sherwood at February 15, 2005 9:30 AM

Please tell me that's a ref to the outsiders and not the song by The Get Up Kids which is a reference to the book...since you've proclaimed a distaste for music, I'll give you the botd.

Still...maybe you're talking about the movie...

Posted by: DLFP at February 15, 2005 4:48 PM