At this point in the mosh pit of too much merriment, I get haggard and a little grumpy. Enter son, Will, in from L.A. just in time to revive my spirits and make everything that much more fun. And with him, comes my daughter Serena, who finds family more appealing when he’s around.
Before this Cleaver family moment began, though, I indulged in some selfish, spoiling adult cheer. First off was martini’s, Mont Blanc (the cherished chestnut dessert) and a cigar (never lit), at Le Grenouille.
Philippe Masson, the current proprietor is very different than his brother Charles Masson, famously at Majorelle. While Charles purrs and offers champagne in front of his delicate flower arrangements, Philippe winks, and explains that the inspiration for his bolder, but beautiful winter blooms-and-balls arrangement, came from a special cigar.
Intrigued, I said I’d like to try said cigar. And so, along with my Mont Blanc (served only at Christmas) came a long crisp, probably very expensive cigar, in a Le G envelope. It remained unlit, but served as an Instagramable prop (not mine, but I sing for my supper), and Elke Gazzara — widow of the late and great actor Ben — who was dining to our right, complained not. But then again, she was dining with her pooch, which we whole-heartedly, didn’t mind.
I suppose I should’ve had the kids with me at the 21 Club Salvation Army lunch, but I was a guest. The room was filled with families, the legendary Army band, led by one of the founders’ grand daughter, Deborah Evans; chicken curry, and many varied pitches of fa-la-la-la-la.
What could be more joyous, especially at Christmas, than an engagement celebration? Monique Merrill and Hillie Mahoney feted Lily Merrill their daughter, and grand, respectively, and her fiancée, Frédéric Châtillon at a cocktail — where else — Doubles. You can tell by the many diacritics over Fred’s name that he is very French. Like hundreds of years French. This made German Grandmother and Francophile mum very happy.
Hillie toasted them and said, “Lily left Trinity College for the American College in France. Hmmmm, Hartford or Paris. What would you pick?” And so, 61/2 years ago, Lily met Fred, and the rest is romantic history. While they live here now, I suspect France is in their future, as will be the wedding though Hillie’s chateau at the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne is in the running.
Don’t we wish we all had grandmas with chateaux?
Monique toasted with a tender story of Lily’s first visit to Doubles. Understandably cranky, then-5 month old Lily, was inconsolable during the family dinner in a thankfully, private dining room. In swooped Wendy Carduner, who brought Lily to her office and returned her 2 ½ hours later — sleeping well, like a baby.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned this. She is now off duty, a young mum! The rooms was filled with generations of pals of theirs — Piros, Kirkpatricks, Girouxs, Menges and yes, Bancrofts. Lily is the first to go in her friends group, and has the bar high for the loving, solid exciting life we wish for all of our kids.
I left the young folks to go up to Jeff Sharp, Doug Steinbrech and Chris Brown’s annual Christmas cocktail in Chris’s Fifth Avenue pad. Apparently no one said no this year. The room was filled with their fun mix of pals, even at my late arrival time. And when I exited at 9, technically the end, guests were still surging in. Those boys have it covered — finance, publishing, entertainment and plastic surgery. What else is there?
I segued from engagement glee and Christmas cheer to … Steve Bannon? I was not alone in finding The Common Good’s invitation to hear him being interviewed by CNN’s John Avlon, oddly irresistible. After all the sticky toffee pudding, it’s time for some brittle. He called us elitists and said he was looking forward to being challenged. And he was, sort of. In a Fifth Avenue kind of way (where we nestled at Richard Cohen’s elitist aerie).
The Common Good’s founder and Director, Patricia Duff, commented after the small dinner that followed. “He is so smart, but can talk in circles. He distracts with brilliance and has a certain kind of smart charm.”
Happy Christmas is coming to all, and to all a good night.