Monday, July 27, 2020. A very warm day, yesterday in New York with temps in the mid-90s and heavy humidity icing the cake. There was even a humidity breeze. When I came home from dinner last night at 9:30, it was 90 degrees!
Sunday was my birthday and I was a guest of Tobie Roosevelt at dinner at Sette Mezzo. Outside, of course. The temp was lower than 90 degrees along Lexington Avenue. Maybe it was the air moving from the cars and buses and trucks passing by.
Sounds crazy but it’s actually fun dining out on the sidewalks and in the park lane roadways they’ve fenced off for tables. All over the city. There’s something inviting about it. People. The lure of New York is the People. All kinds, all races, all nationalities, living together as neighbors — really — and all under one roof: NYC.
These facts, this reality is where I find hope! For all of us! So many people have so many other ideas in mind, it seems hopeless. Never.
Anyway, yesterday was my birthday. Jeff suggested I write about the day since frankly I have nothing else to write about anyway. If there’s any action, it’s out of town. Birthdays are a special day for all of us — celebrated, ignored, it doesn’t matter. To this writer it’s the beginning of a record of a life. Whether it’s presented honestly or not. Lots of us change the story as we go along.
This bday was acknowledged although it’s not newsworthy to this birthday boy. I am now certifiably what the books call an Old Man. It a curious reality because although I can acknowledge the vagaries of aging I’m still 75% the kid inside. And happy to be that. In fact as I’ve got older the kid has got younger.
My first memorable birthday was when I was six. I remember clearly. I asked my mother if I could have a birthday party in the back of my uncle’s coffee shop in Northampton, Massachusetts. I was very impressed by this business because many people could be seated there at one time. I wanted to be grown up, like those people. And that cake with all the frosting and the candles! Exciting!
So at the end of the day on July 26, 1947, little David sat at the head of the table with ten or twelve other kids — none of whom I remember at all — and there was a big birthday cake with the SIX candles on it; meaning I was “growing up.” Remember when you used to be amazed by growing up into “grown-ups?” How little we knew, no? Anyway, I’ve got a photo of the kid somewhere — eyes wide and bright looking at the candles just before I made my wish.
The second birthday party in memory (this is fascinating, no?) was when I turned 35 in 1976. That was the year of the US Bicentennial. Remember that one? The mood and attitude toward our country, within our country was far different from today. The dinner was held on the terrace of a house I was renting in North Stamford. It was a warm summer night and I had thirty-five friends, many old friends attending.
By that age, the kid was used to tables with lots of people at them. It was my pleasure. After the meal and the cake, still light out, on a late July evening, I asked each guest to talk about what the Bicentennial meant to them. It was a varied group of men and women, none of whom were professional political commentators or historians. But we were basically a generation who had gone through the liberation movements of the 1960s and most importantly the citizen’s objection to the Viet Nam War.
The comments my guests made were not dissimilar in that they all referred to our country with pride and admiration. You could argue that all of the guests were comfortable in their lives, and like many Americans, working to get along and keep a life (or lives). I am reminded of that evening as I write this because it was a beautiful day with friends enjoying each other’s company, and the attitude had an uplifting quality in the thoughts. But, as I said, we were all very privileged in that we were okay, employed, educated, and moving along.
The other birthday that always comes to mind was in 2006 when I turned 65. I invited 30 friends from all parts of my life to dine at Swifty’s restaurant. That included a school friend from my teenage years to people I’d come to know since I was writing the New York Social Diary since 1994.
The dinner was really co-hosted by my distinguished partner, Jeff Hirsch who footed half the bill. And it was in a way a statement of our prosperity as an independent web site. It was the sixth year of the NYSD and we were very prosperous and energized by the audience response. And for me, it was pleasure to share everything with my friends. Friends have been my good fortune in life.
This year is prominent in my thoughts because I’m naturally moving on to the next decade which has always looked different from afar and yet here I am the ten- or eleven-year-old acquiring the view of the horizon. As it happens I am still a working writer and that is necessary to keep my landlord from my door. (Besides being the only thing that I can’t get away from.) I’ve been a working kid all my life, having come from the generation in America when you asked your mother or father for something you wanted to buy, they’d respond: get a job and earn the money, and buy whatever you want. Yes sir; yes ma’am. Those were the rules in every household (with the exception of some of the rich).
So this birthday I’ve “celebrated” with friends for the past four nights. The gift is the company. We need each other; all of us. If no other lesson comes from this experience we’ve all shared, it is that we need each other. That is the nature of human life.