Glenn Close thinks I look familiar
On New York City and spontaneity
Cafe Cluny is mid.
There's no getting around that fact. It's a West Village staple, surrounded by many better restaurants, but for some it's a comfortable go-to. It feeds into one of my favorite aspects of New York life — spontaneity. Growing up and watching Sex and the City or Living Single or any other type of show centered around young urbanites, you start to feel like life in a city isn't complete without a tight-knit group of friends that will arrive at your apartment unannounced and drag you out for a night on the town or meet you for an impromptu dinner because they just finished a hookup a couple blocks away and want to spill the juicy details.
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In a way, it's much easier to be spontaneous in New York than my former home Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, to make plans you need to hop in a car. Whether it's your own car or Uber, a vehicle will usually be needed. New York has not only public transportation, but the majority of my friends live within the same radius as one another. Adrienne Matei recently wrote for The Atlantic on the benefits of living closer to your friends: "Having supportive friends is associated with greater day-to-day happiness and longer life spans, sometimes even more so than having strong familial or spousal relationships. It’s also linked to lower levels of depression and mental decline as we age. And friends are particularly important at a time when 36 percent of Americans report feeling “serious loneliness.” Although technology is making it easier to maintain long-distance bonds, nothing can replace seeing friends in person."
Though I'll sometime be shady about it, I love when my friend Ben Richardson — who I'd hardly call a neighbor, since he lives in Brigadoon… sorry, Bushwick — is in the West Village for an appointment (usually dental or dick) and calls me to say he’s coming over. The casual drop-in gives New York the community feel I had growing up in Milwaukee. My mom would stop by to see my grandmother whenever she was nearby. Friends of mine who lived nearby would come and knock on the door if they saw your car was at home. And now that most of my friends have given in to the Tim Cook Surveillance State — around 15-20 of my friends have my location on Find My Friends and I have theirs — it's easier to know when a friend is in the area.
On most occasions Ben stops by by apartment with coffee, or I'll make a cocktail, and we'll trade some gossip and he'll dip out. But this afternoon he wanted to stop by the Gagosian's Richard Avedon exhibit in Chelsea. I love cosplaying like Chantal Chadwick from Gallery Girls and it was an extraordinarily gorgeous Thursday in New York and I am still procrastinating on finishing my book, so we walked from the West Village to Chelsea only to find a huge ass line for this exhibit thanks to Ben missing the window for the Condé Nast friends and family visiting hour. Neither of us do lines, at least the ones you have to queue for, so I chain-smoked a Newport while waiting for his friend Tara, a stunning interior designer, who also said hell no to that line.
Which brings me back to the beauty of spontaneity in New York! While we do live in a Resy world1 that has cruelly sapped all of the fun out of popping into a chic restaurant and asking for a table — unless you know the owner, so thank god for Kyle Hotchkiss Carone and all of his restaurants within a walking distance to my apartment (also, I recently stopped by the new brunch at Holiday Bar and got to witness Kate Hudson strolling by in denim jeans and a T-shirt after having just rewatched How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days for the first time since 2003, and it is not only a perfect film, but also somehow the white version of Boomerang) — there's one place you can always snag a table on a Thursday night. A mid restaurant. And the king of the mids is Cafe Cluny.
Which isn't to say that the food is awful, but the quality wildly varies from visit to visit and the menu itself is giving roadside diner so there's really nothing exciting about it. Maybe you'd take your mom for dinner if she's in town. But you wouldn't even go to catch up with a friend you haven't seen for a while, because the most exciting parts about those dinners is experiencing a new restaurant too (recent faves, Casino and The Noortwyck).
But Cluny is a West Village staple and it may not always be there when you call (because you'll never call for a reservation anyway), but it's always on time (because you will surely be seated in five minutes). And then there's the fact that it is Glenn Close's favorite restaurant, somehow? Or maybe she just loves to eat there. Everyone who has ever eaten at Cafe Cluny has a story about how they saw Glenn there once and when she was doing press for The Wife, most of the profiles began with some variation of "I sat down with Glenn Close at Cafe Cluny."
"I wonder if we'll see Glenn," I joke while we roll up to Cafe Cluny and then, serendipitously, that is exactly who we're seated next to. She has her dog in her lap and seated with her is Lonny Price, also with a dog in his lap, who is a theatre director who directed Glenn in Sunset Boulevard.
We say hi to the dogs, because a celebrity with a dog is the perfect way to get over the awkwardness of saying hello to them (this is why walking your dog is better than a dating app in New York, but I do not have a lifestyle that will allow me to keep a dog alive), and then we go about our dinner conversation, quietly excited that we've been seated next to thee Glenn Close.
Lucky for me, she interrupts us to say to me, "I think I recognize you from somewhere!" And while I don't exactly confirm where she remembers me from, though we've tried to book her on Keep It so maybe someone has sent her clips of the show, that is all of the validation that I need for the rest of the month. I take the opportunity to tell Glenn how much I love the film Jagged Edge, which sat on my grandmother's shelf in VHS form for my entire adolescence. She's shocked that is the film I brought up to her and not say, 101 Dalmations because I'm a millennial obviously, but then she takes a moment and responds, "That was a great script." Somewhere, I hope Joe Eztherhas (who also wrote Basic Instinct and Showgirls) is sleeping soundly.
The food is perfectly fine as I said, and we enjoy our meal and maybe it was nice to visit Cafe Cluny again. It feels a little bit like the announcement of a new Ultimate Girls Trip on Peacock starring Kelly Bensimon, Luann DeLesseps, Dorinda Medley, Sonja Morgan, Ramona Singer, and Kristen Taekman. It's comfortable and we have so many memories together, but one cannot continue a television network on nostalgia and the opinions of a bunch of aging millennials and Gen Xers.
That's why I'm excited for the new reboot of Real Housewives of New York (Ubah Hassan is serving in the trailer and Jenna Lyons is chic chic chic and hopefully they form real friendships), because when you're catching up with friends after a long time, sometimes you need something new, something exciting to talk about. And besides, there’s nothing spontaneous about the Upper East Side.
I am fascinated with Resy and matched with a cute data scientist on Raya during Fenty Bowl weekend, but he left me on read so I guess I'll never find out the company's secrets!