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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Self-Pitti


The bald fiftysomething maitre'de, who wore an air of benevolent authority on his sun-baked Italian face, told us it would be a 25-minute wait. 35-minutes later we were still gazing at the cluster of occupied tables from a park bench in front of Bar Pitti, an affordable Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village.

Some of the people dining outside in the warm summer night were scene-y, others were corporate-y, others were upwardly mobile-y; the Lamborghini of baby carriages was parked at the end of one table, quite possibly inhabited by yuppies from Sweden.

The Blubox Intern and my friend gabbed away about yoga as we leaned forward on the bench, sending a stream of uptight vibes to the maitre‘de, who was surveying the tables calmly like Mussolini looking out at a crowd of thousands from a balcony.

We told ourselves to forget about keeping on the maitre'de's radar. Instead, we should relax and enjoy "just being", appreciate the nice summer evening in Greenwich Village.

We glanced over at Famke Jansen, who was also waiting for a table. We'd been stealing looks at her for the past twenty minutes; a barely decent way to pass the time while we waited. We had to be subtle -- no googly eyes, if you catch my drift -- so as not to get caught by Famke, or worse, by the Blubox Intern.

A clean-cut Eric Stoltz. emerged from Bar Pitti with a friend and walked right by Famke Jansen, sitting on a bench, toying with one of her hot friend's little dog. Famke glanced over, recognized him, but didn't care enough to say anything.

A seat opened up. Who do you think the maitre ‘de sat first? Famke and her hot friends? Or us?

We were eventually seated and, with our perfectly indirect view of Famke, we began to unwind. Spotting her and Eric Stoltz in one night would have been thrilling enough. But who should stop by Famke Jansen's table to give a quick hello? Edward Norton.

Jansen, Stoltz, Norton: that's your cast right there. Find the right director and you have a classic New York movie in the making. Roll cameras, baby.

Then the make-or-break moment came, the moment that could have sent the evening into a fiery ball of flames. The dinner specials were written on a chalkboard that a waiter held up for everyone at his table to read, but when our gayer-than-gay waiter went inside to get our wine, he had the Blubox Intern and my friend hold the chalkboard at each end and balance it up on the table.

Blubox Intern didn't look happy. We knew what was wrong but we didn’t ask. Blubox Intern looked over at us with a pout: "Famke didn't have to hold up her chalkboard.”

She was right, of course. The waiter not only held the chalkboard up for Famke, but made a point of crouching down so that Famke wouldn't have to strain her precious eyes to read the specials, written in Italian we might add.

The waiter came back and The Blubox Intern said under her breath, "I didn't know I was going to be put to work."

The waiter said, "What was that?"

At that moment, my heart was racing. The Blubox Intern told the waiter what she said even though we all knew he had heard her clearly the first time.

The waiter then responded, "There's a first for everything, hun." Now, that was fabulous. Even Blubox Intern had to smile.

He added, "This isn't a restaurant, honey. It's a trattoria." Which sounded brilliant, even though we had no idea what it meant.

The dinner turned from that moment. We all felt a little more at ease. Then the food arrived, which was excellent. The eggplant parmigiana appetizer was especially tasty.

And as we ate our dinners, we spotted yet another celebrity, this time it was famous fashion photographer Terry McMillan. The Blubox Intern took special pleasure in this sighting, as it gave her the chance to point out that she had recognized him, while we had not.

In her mind, it also gave her the opportunity to make some disparaging remark about "all you little hipster bloggers" who are actually "dorks who wouldn't even know who Terry McMillan was if he sat in your lap".

As we finished our meal, Blubox Intern turned to us with a warm smile and asked: "Did my little starfucker have a nice meal?"

"Yes," we said, "But we feel like we need to see one more star for the night to be complete."

The Blubox Intern looked around vaguely. She turned back to us: "Will that do?"

We turn to where she had been looking. Sitting with an attractive girl at a tiny table for two was Vincent Gallo.

The next day we emailed our friend and personal architect TDM who suggested a deeper metaphysical meaning of my dinner in the West Village:

See, as life progresses, you strategically reduce that delay between when you leave and Famke and her hot posse arrives, until the time lag actually becomes an overlap, and you co-exist at the same table.

TDM also provided this final insight:

One we lived in an age in which every story ended, "and that boy grew up to be Henry Kissinger." Now every story must end, "and the dude with the cellphone turned out to be Vincent Gallo."

Perhaps one could debate this fact. But one thing is for sure: we had our director now. Roll cameras, baby.

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