Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Night at Elaine's

Did you see the nostalgic article on Elaine’s in last Sunday’s Style section of the NY Times? (OK, so I’m a little behind in my reading. Besides, I’ve had other topics to write about in the interim.) Here’s the link in case you missed it: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/fashion/12elaines.html?_r=1&scp=5&sq=elaine%20kaufman&st=cse

I’ll admit to a certain envy of those journalistic brothers who frequented the power den restaurant and watering hole on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. But as a commuter and family man, I wasn’t going to abandon Gilda, Dan and Ellie for associations of questionable benefit. Besides, I never was a heavy drinker, and from all I’ve heard and read about the gang that hung out at Elaine’s, that was a strong prerequisite for membership.

It wasn’t until about five years ago that I finally swung through the doors of Elaine’s with Gilda in the company of our English friends Dave and Gemma Banks. Dave, you may recall from an earlier blog (http://nosocksneededanymore.blogspot.com/2009/12/larger-than-life-journalist_06.html) has been a force in British journalism for some 40 years. After Rupert Murdoch bought the NY Post, he imported several Brits to spice up the tabloid, of which Dave was a key player. We accompanied Dave as he met up with his successors at the Post, editor Col Allan and company (Dave also edited the NY Daily News; the day before we met with the then editor Martin Dunn at his downtown loft apartment prior to dining with him at Tribeca Grill).

Elaine herself came over to our table. Of course, she would, given the provenance of Col Allan. Though she didn’t know Gilda or me, Ms. Kaufman could not have been more welcoming. She had no airs. She showed more interest in our new faces than those of her regulars. In short (and she was short in physical stature), she was a perfect host, making us feel comfortable and important.

I’ve often wondered how my career might have been different had I been more of a drinker and schmoozer and not such a homebody. While a reporter in Connecticut, I didn’t hang out in bars with politicians, the police or firemen, filling up on beer and background stories. When I became a business to business editor, I rarely socialized with the captains of commerce my magazine covered. I still managed to have a successful career, but the question still lingers in my mind—what if....?

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