It is always the same. We give a party. We go to bed. I wake up early, feeling fine, and start to clean up. When the final dishwasher load is running, Kathleen comes to, sort of, and announces that she feels as though she has been hit by a Mack Truck. I bring her a glass of water and a few Advil tablets for her raging headache, and she slips back into slumber. Later the same day she rises and stumbles into her clothes, and it is time for another nap.
When Fossil Darling called to thank us for the wonderful party &c, he told us that it was very nice outside. Windy but sunny and not too cold. So Kathleen thought that she ought to take a walk. Would we walk to the river, or in Central Park? We walked down First Avenue to Agata & Valentina, because I had conceived a desire to celebrate New Year’s Eve with beef stroganoff. Silly me, I hadn’t thought of this before, and it was madness to think of walking into that den of maddened shoppers on one of the biggest days of the A&V year. For all I knew, there wouldn’t be any tenderloin on offer. But I thought I might check it out, and Kathleen (later told me that she) wanted to humor me as thanks for the wonderful party &c, preparing for which, she insisted, “I did nothing.” I said, pretty cavalierly, that I’d “check out” the butcher counter; if there was a throng, I wouldn’t wait.
Kathleen hates being in Agata & Valentina at the best of times. It is very reminiscent of the hole into which Alice fell through to Wonderland. The shopping area and the checkout lane compete for the same square footage. A crowded 6 train at rush hour is slightly less unpleasant, because you’re unlikely to be rammed by shopping carts as you wait for your charcuterie (or wait to be waited on). For someone my size, this is not too great a challenge, but Kathleen, notoriously not tall, finds the crush wildly oppressive. She said that she would wait outside while I “checked out” the butcher counter.
But it was too cold to wait outside. Happily, the entrance area, which used to house a small cafe, has been given over to organic vegetables, but a few of the little stools and bar tables remain. Leaving Kathleen there, I plunged into the thick and soon — very soon — found exactly what I wanted, went back to the end of the line, and duly paid for a piece of meat that was just the right size. I don’t think that it took ten minutes altogether. (The checkout line, while crazy-long, moves crazy-quick.) I walked out the exit door by the cash register and back to the store entrance nearer the corner of 79th Street. Inside the entry area, surrounded among the turnips by deranged foragers, I found Kathleen, perched on one of the stools — sound asleep.
“Shall we walk down to the river?” I suggested, once we were outside.
“I need a taxi,” was the answer.
But what about the caviar, you ask. Surely I had to wait behind the insanely picky customers for “appetizing” foods (as smoked fish and pickled salads are called in New York) in hopes of securing an ounce or two of caviar?
No, I didn’t. My sleepyhead had taken care of that on Saturday — and not at Agata & Valentina.