It was a Saturday, so we didn’t get up until 9 or so, and my boyfriend, Peter, as per our agreement, took the dogs out for a walk and gave them breakfast while I stayed in bed and fell back asleep until 10. I finally got up and actually did my back exercises, and our dog Evie kept coming over and trying to stick her snout into my mouth, which made me laugh, which made my back hurt. Gus, our other dog, does not seem to care about my back.
We had plans to meet our best friends, Brett and Tal, at a hotel restaurant in Midtown that used to be really great when it was an old diner. It is now no longer so great, having been renovated by someone completely lacking a sense of color. (I feel like this should be a prerequisite for an interior designer.) We ordered Bloody Marys at the ornate, hideous bar. I can drink a Bloody Mary faster than anyone I know. True to form, I drank it in about five minutes, and if I hadn’t been actively restraining myself, I would have finished it in two. I remembered meeting my friend Hilary here for lunch in the early ’90s, when it was still a great diner and the booths were not covered in leather a color Tal deems “butterscotch stallion”—a reference to Owen Wilson’s ’90s nickname. Hilary and I were both editorial assistants, and we had so much to say to each other that we had to scribble down an agenda on a napkin to make sure we covered all necessary topics. Thinking about a time when things felt much more urgent was wistfully pleasant rather than merely depressing.
I ordered another Bloody Mary, a risk given that we were headed to a museum. Two different bartenders asked us very flirtatiously if we’d like to just stay and eat at the bar instead of wait for a table, which—being gay men either nearing or having recently reached 50—was flattering but also felt designed to goose the tip. We decided as a group it was mostly flattering.
We were shown to our table, and the usual breakfast/lunch dilemma was addressed. Tal responded by ordering chicken and waffles. Brett and I shared the New York Power Play, which consisted of bagels, lox, other smoked fish, etc. and was delicious despite its aspirational name. Peter made a last-minute choice to be healthy with the Asian chicken salad, which was soaked in dressing and pretty gross. Everyone else ordered another drink, finally catching up to me.
We headed over to the MOMA to see a few shows. (I should mention here that this was a lot of activity for us on a weekend. Usually I just work, read, watch TV, and take the dogs for walks.) The first show addressed the thuddingly dull question: IS FASHION ART? My feeling is “I don’t know—sometimes?”—and the show did not change my mind.
We then went to a huge show of photographs that did not impress me either, mostly because I have a hard time accepting photographs as interesting, which I KNOW is not right, but looking at desert landscapes and cars on the side of the road and shadows on the sidewalk just doesn’t feel very emotionally engaging or intellectually stimulating to me, which is not a very popular opinion, and in fact I wouldn’t even call it an opinion, since I feel more embarrassed than adamant about my relative lack of interest in photography. I like Cindy Sherman, so maybe I just have a hard time with landscapes.
Next was the Louise Bourgeois show, which was amazing—beautiful and thought provoking and emotional—and my visceral response to it made me feel a little more sure about my lack of enthusiasm for everything else. That said, the series of childlike spiders drawn in ink just felt . . . childlike . . . and I wondered, if I had been an art teacher and Louise Bourgeois my student, would I have been able to recognize her genius on the basis of them, and I was pretty sure the answer was no. I thought of my friend Rebecca, who wrote her college thesis on Gertrude Stein and would, understandably, get EXTREMELY UPSET when critics called Stein’s work childlike.
I was on more solid ground with her giant sculptures of spiders, which were fantastic, and the last room of the show—a series of color-saturated prints she made when she was in her mid- and late 90s—made it clear that Bourgeois should have been in charge of renovating the diner.
At this point, I was exhausted—two giant drinks!—so we ran down to the show about Club 57, which was a riot of neon and xeroxed flyers and frantic film clips, and we did not stay long. I bet Hilary and I, back in the ’90s, would have had enough energy to meaningfully contribute to this scene had it not disappeared almost a decade before we arrived in New York.
In conclusion, I would like to say that one of the best things about the MOMA is their coat check system, which is super high tech, involves pictures and texts, and eradicates my usual fear of losing my claim ticket, which, let’s just say, is not an unfounded one.
Later, we walked the dogs and took enormous naps—over an hour and a half long, which is fantastic and disorienting. I did some work and went to the supermarket to buy stuff to make vegetable chili. I mostly do not like cooking, because our kitchen is Barbie sized and also because cooking is fussy and boring. I like making vegetable chili because it’s extremely forgiving. I don’t have to look at a recipe, and I can make an enormous quantity and freeze some, which I did. The only upsetting thing about this process was that I could only find sour cream in a weird squeeze tube container. Peter made a salad that contained diced cheese and was a real winner. We split a Rolling Rock Tall Boy.
I read a bit more for work and watched three episodes of The Good Place. Then I took the dogs out again and read some Mary McCarthy for my book group. In the midst of a 10-page digression about breastfeeding, I fell asleep.