This summer, I’m a restaurant widow.
My husband, Steven, kicked off the season by opening a new restaurant in Soho right after Memorial Day. (Sessanta in the SIXTY Soho hotel. Tell them I sent you!)
When your spouse has just opened a restaurant, you don’t see them much.
I know, “restaurant widow” is not at all a fair term to actual widows.
I still get to see my spouse leave the house in the morning, all showered and smelling like his Commes Des Garcon man spray.
I get to see him come home late at night, when he likes to loudly rip up all the junk mail at the kitchen counter and then take out the plastic waste I’ve accumulated to the recycling bin in the hall.
I get to request my favorite booth at his restaurant even on the busiest nights of the week, and eat Sicilian-inspired pasta and skirt steak at a discount.
But still, I miss Steven being around, especially on the warm nights when we’d normally mosey to Barbuto, our neighborhood go-to, and eat dinner outside together.
On the upside, I have plenty of time for walks at night. That may sound lame, but it’s my favorite thing to do: walk when the sun is on its way down and listen to podcasts.
I have three regular routes right now.
One is down Hudson River Park, which is a beautiful path along the water that allows me to say, “Who needs a vacation house? I’ve got this gorgeous river practically in my back yard, and it has beach volleyball, mini golf, and other attractions I’ll never use but like thinking I would. Joke’s on you, Hamptons homeowners!” This place is the cure for any FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that I get from people’s posts of feet and glass of wine in hammock, or the ubiquitous “FRESH GRILLED CORN! #LIFEISGOOD!”
Sometimes I try taking sunset photos there, but they’re too dopey to post.
The other main route is around the East Village, which is great for cruising past vintage clothing stores (where I refrain from going in or else I’ll spend my money on a musty-smelling mistake), bodegas that sell dusty bags of plantain chips, and lots of junkies.
The junkies are everywhere if you go East of Union Square.
I’m obsessed with the older, seasoned-veteran kind of junkie with the following uniform: walking cane, sunken cheekbones, oversized sports jersey, giant gold medallion, white sneakers, white tube socks pulled up and leaving just an inch between top of sock and hem of mid-calf jeans.
Somewhere there’s a clothing manufacturer making junkie capris pants. I don’t understand why they all wear bottoms this length. It’s either super-short pants, or super-long shorts. It’s like a secret handshake. A gang sign that says, “Hey, let’s sell some CDs on a dirty blanket on the street and then go shoot up and nod off together next to a pile of vomit and a tin of takeout spaghetti.”
I’ve noticed a couple of ruses these junkies have for looking like they’re not just slumped in an opium coma: holding under the drooping head either a crossword puzzle (Friday’s is so hard! Gotta concentrate on 17 across!) or a defunct old clamshell phone.
When I get thirsty, I like stopping into a bodega on avenue C, where they use awful-smelling disinfectant and sell off-brand bottled water but seem to appreciate my legs. I wear cutoffs on these walks, and though my legs are long past their prime (and were never ready for prime time), they get looks in less picky districts.
So that’s the East Village.
And then there’s the extra route, in my immediate neighborhood. This is for quickies. Last night, I was so riled up by an excellent episode of Real Housewives of New York, and it was so warm and steamy out, I had to go get my walk on at 1am.
Yes. I like the city when it’s dark, desolate, and the temperature of a laundromat.
Along with everyone else who grew up in New York, I complain that the city has sold its soul and exchanged all its grit for hedge-fund douchers who line up for cupcakes. But you’ll see that’s not true if you go for a walk on a Tuesday night at 1am. Especially the block of 6th Avenue below 8th Street, where the B/F/D subway entrance is right next to an all-night Duane Reade.
There are people out selling incense, piles of non-working Blackberry chargers, and, I’m guessing, meth. Glassy-eyed addicts stumble in and out of the pizza place. Pockmarked, transgendered hookers loiter in sequined short shorts. Last night, a guy staggered past me with his mouth open, his dick exposed through the open fly of his corduroy pants, and a big wad of dollar bills in his fist. My thoughts were, in this order: 1) “EWWWW!” 2) “Where’d he get that money?”
And if you think no one’s out at 1 am on a Tuesday, or that I’ve got the whitest legs in town, go past the old Nell’s on 14th Street. (Photo at top.) Nell’s was a hot club in the 80s and 90s. Somehow I got in once or twice. I don’t know what it is now, but last night, I walked past and got to see girls in hoochie outfits spilling out of SUVs and then trying to push their way to the front of the hoochie mob by claiming specialness.
And aside from that, I’m working. No different from any other time of year, except that instead of eating straight from the fridge when I’m procrastinating, I go out and walk around the block, or cruise over to the gourmet grocery store Agata and Valentina to see if they have any samples of cut-up almond croissant.
How’s YOUR summer?
Spot any junkies?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.