I’ve been thinking a lot about anniversaries this week. Exactly a year ago today I retired from full-time working-mom life. (Doesn’t that sound so much more empowering than…”Exactly a year ago I was let go” or “Exactly a year ago Cookie folded.”) The staff drowned its sorrows at Scratcher in the East Village, which just so happens to be the bar where Andy and I clinked two bourbons-on-the-rocks* to finish off our anniversary celebration last night. It was half a block from the restaurant where we ate dinner (Degustation. Please go.), a coincidence I decided was too good a memory-mining opportunity to miss. Memory-mining, in case you can’t tell, is sport in my house. Unlike my forward-thinking friend Jenny, who once told me dinners out with her husband usually involve him asking “So what’s our five-year plan?”, I am always looking for a good occasion to ask things like “Can you name all the restaurants where we’ve celebrated the past 13 anniversaries?” (We came up with about six — the rest are recorded in my Diary or scribbled inside the restaurant matchbooks that I used to collect.) On almost every one of these nights, the waiter would approach us at some point during the meal with a message: Your wine tonight is courtesy of your parents. Or Your champagne tonight is courtesy of Aunt Patty and Uncle Julian. (That was technically our engagement dinner, and the cork above, dated 12/15/96 with a ballpoint pen, is from the bottle we popped that night.) And then there was the dinner at Babbo in 1999 that I will never forget — when the entire check was picked up by a friend for whom Andy had just done a favor. Every single time this happens, I am blown away by the gesture — whether it’s a glass of champagne or dessert or the whole meal — blown away by the fact that someone took the time to find our where we were going then call ahead to conspire with a host. Whenever possible, we try to do it right back.
*I love how cool I sound here, but the reality is, Andy and the bartender had to convince me to nut up and have my own glass of Michter’s. But I just had two Albarinos! Maybe I’ll just have a sip of yours. We have to get up early! Just give me half a glass…OK, fine, the whole glass. You’re getting Phoebe on the early bus.