(< Photo: Velvet-roped and we don't know why)
The last time I traveled to New York with this particular crew was in Feb 1996. We had a crazy co-worker along with us named Ginger who was obsessed with returning a two year-old dress to Bergdorf's and putting wrestling holds on men. This time, happily Ginger-free, we more than made up for the nine-year gulf between trips. As usual things did not start out smoothly. A harrowing Jet Blue experience delayed the fun for several hours. At 10 p.m., Annie and I were finally in Manhattan but Jen, Jonae and Siobhan were still drinking wine at Legal Seafoods at Logan with a giggly businessman named Todd. They didn't arrive until 1 a.m. But from thereon, good times and serendipity reigned, bringing us places where we never intended to go that proved to be much better than our original destinations.
On a recommendation, Annie and I headed out to a Thai restaurant named Rain which had two locations in Manhattan. We naturally chose the location closest to us but when the cab dropped us off in front of the address, it was boarded up and painted black. And the paint looked fresh. We walked down Lexington Ave and popped into a small French bistro called Sel & Poivre which ended up being exactly what we wanted. Cocktails and chair dancing at Rue 57 followed, where we were greeted by a patron being dragged out "Weekend at Bernie-Style."
The next morning, we met up with the weary travelers for brunch at Balthazar in SoHo to load up before a long day shopping for crappy bags on Canal and Spring streets. Anna Wintour, the notoriously evil editor of Vogue, dined just a few booths away from us and we averted our eyes for fear we'd turn to stone. At one point, however, I had to restrain Annie from asking Wintour if she was planning to feature "plump redheads" on the cover any time soon. We ventured down Canal Street in an icy drizzle, constantly accosted by peddlers muttering "louis vuitt, louis vuitt" which sounded like "ribbit, ribbit." They ushered us into "secret" back rooms with walls of counterfeit bags, acting rushed and shady like the cops had no idea they existed.
(photo: "louis-vuitt, louis-vuitt")
Soon, it was high time for a snack and a cocktail. Annie, Jonae and I headed to the SoHo Grand. Jen and Siobhan, who continued to maurader for bags, met us there two hours later. Pupils dilated, coming down from handbag high: "We bought eight pocketbooks."
Our serendipitous trend continued that evening when we were looking for a restaurant on West 46th but couldn't find it. We asked a man walking past us where it was and he suggested we go to the restaurant where he waited tables instead, swearing it was better. It was. It ended up being Becco, one of Lidia Bastianich's restaurants. Even though there was a wait, the maitre'd seated us immediately and within minutes, we were carbing up thick with breads, pastas and pies. We topped it off with a round of Limoncella - Cin Cin and a second wind.
(photo: Late afternoon nosh at SoHo Grand >)
We decided to dance off dinner at The Whiskey . When we arrived, we were immediately -- and quite inexplicably -- whisked into a VIP area with our own bar and velvet couches. We enjoyed a few Red Bulls & Mandarins, but unfortunately, the scene quickly degenerated into Techno Hell so we split.
We walked a few blocks to the China Room Club, where again, we were in line for five minutes before a burly bouncer plucked us from obscurity and led us downstair. Inside, we checked our coats. Siobhan wanted to hold on to hers but was stalked by a hostile coat checker around the bar area until she gave in. Her sparkly green shirt made it impossible to shake the coat checker, even amid the swirling dry ice and disco lights. Here, the music and vibe were much better, and finally - we danced for several hours. Around 2 a.m., though, some creepy silk-shirted men were lurking in the shadows trying to procure Heinekens to us like Jello shots. Soon, the China Room smelled of cheap cologne and the pent-up energy of a crime about to be committed. We decided to leave and get some food. Still in high spirits, the five of us walked down Broadway, arms linked, giddily heading into the early hours of Sunday. I, however, was heading for a Lindsay Lohan moment.