Friday, January 22, 2010
Restauranteur Elaine Kaufman of Elaine's Restaurant in NYC, surrounded by some of her distinguished clientele from amongst the creme de la creme of the New York literati.
A friend recently told me they saw a picture of Elaine Kaufman in Vanity Fair, and that looking at it, they immediately thought of me -- me in the future. And having been obsessed, from about the 6th grade on, with Elaine's and the whole decadent, hilarious, brilliant, literary mist that swirls about the place, I must say that I was intrigued by her comparison. So, I googled Elaine -- who by all accounts has a reputation for being a well-read, whip-smart, bawdy, rollicking, belly laugher of a broad -- and sure as shit...it is DEAD-ON like looking in a mirror into the future.
Accompanying one of the pictures I found of her was an interview she did with The New York Times where, when asked how she finds the energy to keep doing it after all these years, she pursed her lips and answered, "If you slow down, you fuckin' die, honey!"
By the way, in case you hadn't already guessed it, despite her quick and erudite mind, and the esteemed company she keeps (up until his death in 2003, the writer George Plimpton was one of her closest friends and is pictured here above her right shoulder), "fuck" is apparently her favorite word, and she feels free to pepper her language with it quite liberally. If you google "Elaine Kaufman" and "fuck", the results are positively breathtaking.
There's a story about Elaine, told by New York journalist Bob Drury, that pretty much sums her up. I shall let him tell it:
And, of course, there was Elaine’s—Elaine Kaufman, she loved reporters and cops. I had met her back when I was a kid sportswriter, maybe seven or eight years earlier. A literary agent owed me 11k—a lordly sum at the time for me; even today now that I think about it—and he was hosting an afternoon party at Elaine’s for another one of his clients. When I arrived at the door he was greeting people and handed me the check. I didn’t know anybody so I slinked over to a corner of the bar and ordered a beer. When I went to pay, and the bartender told me it was an open bar, I jacked him a two-spot tip. Three or four more beers later, three or four more $2 tips later, I notice that there’s this, er, zaftig women giving me the voodoo eye from a couple of bar stools down.
I stand up and start to say, “Hi. My name is ...” and she holds a hand up and cuts me off.
"I know who the fuck you are. I saw Jay give you that check for eleven grand when you walked in and I’ve been watching you tip my bartender with every drink. My name’s Elaine, and you're welcome in my place any fuckin' time.”
It seems she and I have a lot more in common than just a hair-do, funny glasses, a zest for living, and a fondness for black dresses and smart men.