My friend Gonzalo works for a man who is a bit of an eccentric. This man seems to plan elaborate evenings all the time, mostly consisting of theater and dinner combinations. He also seems to be quite particular about the particulars. Apparently unable to attend one such planned evening due to an illness, he offered it to my friend who invited me to join him. Last night began with an off broadway play called “The Temperamentals“, which follows the story of Harry Hay and the forming of the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights organization in Los Angeles. While the play contained some interesting factoids about the various personalities involved, overall it felt more like a classroom lecture than a gripping stage drama. eh.
After the play we went to a late (pre-arranged) dinner at The Russian Tea Room, and a rush of memories came flooding back to me. I believe the last (and only) time I was here was in the early 80’s. I was taken to lunch here as a teenager by my mother, for what seemed to me at the time to be a very fancy meal. Something of this event stayed with me, for I remembered the Chicken Kiev I had ordered back then, as well as the feeling of big city sophistication the place imparted to a boy from Indiana. I was fairly shocked upon entering the place to note that the decor looked exactly as it had all those years ago, and the menu seemed exactly as it had been as well. There was the Borscht, there was the Chicken Kiev. Though we arrived a little late for dinner, it was quite surprising that there were only two other tables with people sitting at them in the entire restaurant. And although the meal was fine as it went, I was basking in the odd nostalgia more than anything else. This is a place locked in time, a slice of old New York that could use a little updating as it began to feel just a little bit like we had stumbled into a Twilight Zone episode. Still, I quite enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, with all of its layered associations.