On… speeddatenighting

So, Fox and I stole Tuesday afternoon last week.
It was our last week in New York before a summer break in Europe. Fox had been travelling a lot, I’d been writing a lot, and between friends and work and Errol, we almost never got time alone that wasn’t about the baby, general life admin and planning, or sleep. We didn’t want a late night, or a big extravaganza, or a huge ‘date night’ dinner. We didn’t want to bother with booking a babysitter or reservations or tickets or any of that. We simply wanted a teeny weeny bit of alone time, out of the house, without the baby. Just the two of us.

So we asked our lovely nanny if she’d work a little late. It would be the first time that I’d miss doing the 5.30pm Hour Of Power (dinner, bath, bottle, story, bed) in the whole ten months since Errol was born, so I was extremely excited about seeing the world at that time. (And predictably worried Errol would implode without my calming, nurturing presence. Apparently he barely noticed.)

Anyway. It was raining in Manhattan, and we almost cancelled the night. Our original plan was to walk down to Nolita (sort of a Disney Does Manhattan type area), have a drink in the Spring Lounge or Fonda Nolita, grab a bite in Cafe Gitane or Cafe Habana, and generally meander and flaneur and window-shop and people-watch. But, given the rain, that was out.  

“What shall we do?” said Fox.

We stared at each other for a long moment.


At 5pm I closed my laptop. We didn’t bother to change or dress up. We kissed Errol goodbye, left probably over-specific Hour Of Power instructions, and got a taxi uptown.  

Looking out the window of the taxi at early-evening Manhattan, I got a delicious and unexpected tingle of excitement in my stomach. There’s an electricity in the air between 5pm and 8pm in any big city, and most of all New York. The night is very, very young. Everyone is finishing work and shaking off the day, everyone is planning dates or dinners or drinks or blissful nights at home alone with the box set of True Blood. In other words, everyone has something fun ahead of them, time that’s theirs and theirs alone.

And so did we.

PJ Clarke’sis the place we spent the day after our wedding two years ago. (Our friends and family took over the place from midday to midnight. It was raucous.) So, we took a seat at the bar and had a couple of beers and some sliders (tiny burgers that are, for some reason, way more fun to eat than normal burgers, and dudes, I like me a normal burger).

Then I had a martini, because I really like them, even though they are a starspangled rocketship of booze that my system is in no shape to process these days. Then we shared a Reuben sandwich. Because we like them, too. And talked and talked and talked.

Then we went to McSorleys, which is a famous old Irish bar in Manhattan.

McSorleys serves light beer and dark beer, and that’s it. It prides itself on being old school, and dude, it is. Sawdust on the floor, the whole bit. This is more of a Fox joint than a Gem joint, but I gamely soldiered on. (I know. I’m such a trooper.)

Then – it was just past 7pm by now – the rain was lessening, or maybe we were too tipsy to really notice is. So we skipped down to Whiskey Town.
Whiskey Town is just the kind of bar I’d like to lose an afternoon in, if I was still in the business of losing afternoons in bars. (Damn, that was a good business.) Gently dilapidated interior, cool but comfortable, chatty (but not overchatty) bartender, drinks that give you a gentle punch, and microwave popcorn. I was pretty goddamn tipsy by now so apparently I was slapping the bar in delight at my own wit a lot. (One of my more charming traits.) Just a really goddamn nice bar.

We rolled home at 8pm, relieved our lovely nanny so she could go home, checked on the sleeping baby and agreed we were extremely clever and talented for making such a perfect child, watched some Family Guy, collapsed asleep by 10pm and woke without a hangover. It was like speeddating, but in a slightly more boring married way. Speeddatenighting.

I highly recommend it.

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