Friday, February 2, 2024. Fair weather, no Sun, temps in the low to mid-40s
This past Tuesday night there was a birthday dinner for Susan Gutfreund given by her friend Marc Rosen at Doubles. A great spot to have a bday din. I had been at the same table for another birthday dinner for Mark Gilbertson just last week.
This particular space in the otherwise very large reception room is only big enough for the table and chairs that can seat ten or twelve comfortably. However, the back wall of this tiny space is entirely mirrored from floor to ceiling, so the diner has a sense of a large space as well as accompanying intimacy.
Dining at Doubles as I’ve written before is heightened by its buffet. It’s very sophisticated in its menu of meat/chicken/ fish/salads and vegetables. And all very tasty. So the variety of choices right before your eyes helps the guest try a little of a lot and even come away thinking of seconds. Except when they pass the desserts table where they can’t stay away.
And the guests dress for dinner – jacket and tie for the men. There’s something to be said for that these days. When the world is speeding up and the energy is slowing down. Doubles, on the other hand, is a respite, which is the intention of its manager and CEO, Wendy Carduner.
Marc was the very longtime (almost forty years) husband of Arlene Dahl — who had a total of six marriages, including Fernando Lamas and Lex Barker, all of which with the exception of Marc, were short to brief. Arlene, having been a “movie star,” and from MGM and in Technicolor to the American public in the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, lived into her 90s still looking like her glamorous self (older of course) but also glamorous from the inside. She was a pleasure to know. She was also as nice as she was famous. She was also a devoted astrologer.
If I were to write about Marc, I could describe him socially as one of those guys who likes to look after, take care of a certain kind of woman, namely sophisticated and as powerful as notable. He’s basically a very successful artist/businessman whose creative interests are publicly expressed by that kind of woman. Another example is Joan Collins and her husband Percy Gibson. Joan had four husbands by the time Percy came along like the reward! These are very successful relationships in that each clearly get something out of it besides real devotion.
The birthday dinner table. It’s elegant in an elegant atmosphere. The narrow, darker-toned colors, lit by the mirrored rear wall reflect the light from central dining room. But it’s well lit as you can see.
I was late in arriving, guests were already seated. I was seated next to the birthday girl and across the table from Nassir Al-Nasser who is familiar to New Yorkers as having been the permanent representative of Qatar to the UN, that tiny country in the Middle East that is somehow part of the warlike military brouhaha going on over there. And once I was seated, our host, Marc Rosen, stood up the other end of the table holding a camera to get a photo of the table, as you can see.
You will notice that all of the guests (including the two who somehow got left out of the first picture) are wearing crowns. I had trouble quickly putting mine on my big head, and it ripped as Marc was about take the picture. I didn’t want to look like I wasn’t playing, so I wrapped it around my head making sure the front was in front; and holding it with one hand behind my head for the shot.
Now I tend to be a dramatist in my view of a lot of life. A watcher, looking, taking it all in. It later occurred to me that I was the only one whose crown “broke.” After that crowns were removed, and guests got up and headed for the buffet table beautifully setting out the various dishes. Everything is so beautifully and exquisitely prepared that guests tend to try several dishes.
Susan long ago mastered the art of hosting a dinner both here and in Paris where she and her late husband John also had a residence in a grand mansion on the Left Bank in Paris for many years, as well as her exquisite duplex apartment on Fifth Avenue. The menu also included two different birthday cakes plus a special smaller one for the birthday girl.
With twelve seated at the table there was a lot of conversation. Conversation was lively centered around life in New York right now, and it was a perfectly pleasant birthday for Susan and her guests, torn crowns aside.