Lucinda Rosenfeld

Lucinda Rosenfeld

A weeklong electronic journal.
April 30 1997 3:30 AM

Lucinda Rosenfeld

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       My friend and editor, S., invites me to the 21 Club for a cocktail party being thrown on behalf of the Paris Review literary magazine. S. promises tasty hors d'oeuvres and possible material for my Post column.
       The night is a bust on both counts.
       Awaiting my ravenous self are neither pyramids of jumbo shrimp, nor small oceans of bluepoint oysters, only trays of cheese sticks (cheese sticks!) and vegetable fritters.
       As for column material, I'm left uninspired.
       So rigorous is the 21 Club in its adherence to the décor of The Good Life that it seems less pretentious than prefab. There are chandeliers on the ceiling, brass knobs on the doors. The carpets run from wall to wall. Hanging from the cloth-covered walls are whimsical drawings in gilded frames. The subject matter of these drawings is typically light--a mustachioed fat man getting pulled down the street by his English terrier, for instance.
       As for the party, what is there left to say about a literary cocktail party with George Plimpton the host? There have been so many. They show no sign of abating.
       Everyone at the party is dressed in navy blue or black except for the waiters, who wear white jackets that wouldn't look inappropriate on a football field at halftime.
       I meet a young novelist. She tells me she's ghostwriting a self-help book about "listening." I'm tempted to respond, "What?"
       George Plimpton's midparty "thank-you-for-coming" toast includes an apology for the paucity of literary lions in attendance. He makes a crack about the Old Guard cowering in their closets in the face of so much new and prodigious literary talent. Everyone laughs. Everyone claps. Plimpton calls the 21 Club "a second home for writers and artists." I wonder which artists and writers he's talking about. The artists and writers I know can't afford $21 hamburgers.
       The evening is getting on. Bleary-eyed night-life chronicler Anthony Haden-Guest mistakes novelist Jeffrey Eugenides for the man who slammed his latest literary endeavor in the New York Times Book Review. "You're the man who didn't like my book," says Haden-Guest. "Not like your book?" squeaks Eugenides. "I didn't even read your book."
       New York Times reporter Bruce Weber pulls up a chair. "Can you imagine the hair our kids would have?" I can't resist asking the woolly-haired former high-school teacher. "Are you flirting with me?" Weber wants to know. (I assure him that I'm not.) We get to talking about my career. He offers me advice, but first he attacks said career. I don't bother defending it. He's probably right. I probably do write "filler."
       I take the F train home. I sit next to a well-dressed threesome clutching Carnegie Hall playbills. They're talking about doughnuts. The conversation turns. One says to the other, "Did you know there was a breakfast table at church?"
       I make it back to Brooklyn by 11 p.m., famished and wishing I'd picked up dinner in Manhattan. All the decent restaurants have already closed. I come home with the greasiest pasta primavera in the history of pasta primavera. I eat half, toss half. Then I call semiestranged boyfriend G., tell him I'm willing to give it a few more weeks.

Lucinda Rosenfeld writes a column about night life for the New York Post.