No, we didn’t drop in on DeBlasio or Obama this past weekend. More exciting—to us anyway—was our inaugural visit to our son’s new home in Brooklyn. Despite the relentless rain this past Saturday, Henry and I made our first pilgrimage to Crown Heights to visit our son, Max, and his girlfriend in their (relatively) new studio apartment. Here’s how the plan unfolded:
“You can visit us any time,” Max had suggested, mid-way through a phone conversation.
But popping in clearly was NOT an option. Henry and I live in Manhattan, and Max’s new nest is in Crown Heights—not exactly around the corner. Assuming we don’t get lost, Google says the trip takes 56 minutes by car via the FDR or a little over an hour by subway.
“How about Saturday?” I leaped at my son’s invitation. “We’ll take you and Katy to dinner in Brooklyn. Maybe even Peter Luger’s if we can get a reservation.”
“Sounds great!” Max replied.
I imagined his stomach rumbling on the other end of the phone. Ever since he was a small boy, Henry and I had been promising to take our son to Peter Luger’s Steakhouse, but somehow we’d never gotten around to it. Now, finally, the opportunity presented itself; a perfect way for Henry and me to make the evening extra special for everyone.
The first three times I called Peter Luger’s, the person taking reservations barely smothered a laugh. The restaurant was fully booked “until after 9:30 pm.” I was advised to make my reservations two weeks in advance—especially on a holiday weekend. The implication was clear: I obviously had the unmitigated gall to ask for primetime Saturday night seating for four with only three days’ notice. My second choice–another iconic Brooklyn restaurant–The River Café was also fully booked. Eventually I found a chic restaurant in Brooklyn willing to take us on short notice, but I knew Max would be disappointed. I resolved to keep calling Peter Luger’s periodically, hoping for a cancellation. Although I wasn’t the early bird, I was the persistent bird. And, like all mamas, I want the best for my chicks.
Saturday dawned, and— lo and behold—the drenching rains became my friend! That afternoon I managed to secure a 7:45 pm reservation at Peter Luger’s. Thanks to terrible weather and a fortuitous cancellation, Max and Katy would be enjoying their inaugural visit to carnivore heaven, the same night Henry and I got our first glimpse of our son’s new living quarters.
Henry and I arrived at Peter Luger’s 45 minutes early, and waited at the bar for Max and Katy. Happily we were able to snag seats and sip some wine. Otherwise we’d have been standing with the rest of the hungry, waiting crowd, clutching our soggy coats and umbrellas because—despite the fame and snobbery—there was no coat room. Finding seats at the bar was a good omen. Later, when we all sat down for dinner, we had a friendly, helpful waiter (not always the case, I’m told) and a bread basket for my famished son and his girlfriend, tiding us over until our feast arrived. We ordered tomatoes and onions, porterhouse for four, creamed spinach and German fried potatoes. Believe it or not, we polished off everything, including a second order of potatoes! As my son gnawed the last of the meat from the bone, I wondered: Had we died and gone to carnivore heaven? (Not quite). Somehow we even found room for dessert: three cheesecakes and a chocolate mousse cake. No doggie bags, and no leftovers!
Contented and more-than-well-fed, we navigated from the Brooklyn Bridge to Max and Katy’s apartment, miraculously finding a parking spot right across the street. Max and Katy had warned us that their apartment was small. As we entered their building, I couldn’t help wondering whether Henry and I would be tripping over discarded clothing, soda cans and coffee cups as had been our custom in Max’s room when he lived at home. Maybe now that he was sharing space and rent with a girlfriend, his housekeeping habits had improved? (I hoped.) As the front door swung open, I wondered if there would be chairs for us to sit down? Answer: Yes to both.
“Wow, your place is adorable…and so clean!” Awe-stricken, I complimented Katy as I looked around. The bed was neatly made with Marimekko sheets. The white dining table was spotless; and every pen and pencil (sharpened) was methodically stored in cups. All of the books were lined up like soldiers on a bookshelf they’d built together—not a single tome had gone AWOL onto the floor.
“You must have been cleaning all day,” I joked appreciatively with Katy.
“Not really.” She smiled. “But we did take a lot of stuff to the laundry.”
“You guys did a great job,” I enthused. “I can’t believe you actually BUILT a bookshelf.”
“Actually Max did most of it,” Katy said proudly.
“Yup!” My son grinned with the joy of a job well done. Then he plopped down on the bed, flipping on the 40” inch flat screen TV Katy had given him for his birthday.
“I see you found room to hang the Elisofon photos.” Henry sounded pleased as he examined the pictures of zebras and African tribesmen snapped by his Pulitzer-Prize winning Uncle Eliot, suspended below the ceiling. It was heartwarming that Max had brought something from the family nest to his new home. “Great picture of Sparky on the fridge,” Henry added, nodding toward our soulful-eyed, red terrier who passed away last year. (See “For Sparky With Love,” 1/31/14).
A little while later, we said our goodbyes. Max and Katy looked happy and comfortable together. Although we had enjoyed the warm welcome into their home, the moment was bittersweet. A chapter in our family life had ended forever, and a new one was beginning to unfold.