Alfred and I have been friends since the mid 80s, when each of us worked at the New School. Now, we happen to live 14 blocks apart on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Tall, urbane, a consumer of all things cultural, Alfred runs every other day in Central Park in good weather. Otherwise, he goes to the West Side Y, where he has just taken up yoga in addition to his usual routines.
Alfred also likes to cook and occasionally hosts dinner parties. (Hang on, Dear Reader, this post is not going where you might think.) Still, he frequently picks up prepared dinner treats from Zabar’s and Fairway–the other night, it was eggplant parmesan that caught his fancy; it was, he said, “delicious.”
His one-bedroom apartment in an appealing boutique building on 79th Street has suited Alfred well for decades. Best of all, Alfred has no mortgage on the co-op. He has volunteered to be a member of the board off and on over the years and is once again president.
All of this background is meant to provide context for what is especially charmed about his life.
Maybe once a week, Dominic, a buddy of his in the building will call him and ask him to share whatever he happens to be making that night. Last week, it was smoked trout and couscous with dandelion greens. No, of that meal, I wasn’t jealous.
A couple of other nights a week, Alfred’s doorbell will ring and he’ll open the door to find outside something for dinner, occasionally two or three courses. The donor invariably has disappeared into an elevator shooting upstairs.
It is no secret that such repasts are deposited there by a friend, Suzanne, who, along with her husband Peter, hate to eat leftovers and don’t seem to be able to scale down their cooking. Alfred who’s not a big eater, often can’t finish those meals, so he crams his refrigerator with leftovers of the leftovers plus the dinners he’s prepared or purchased himself–he rarely knows when Suzanne will surprise him.
Recent food that Alfred has told me about having received include pasta with lamb, spaghetti Bolognese and chicken cacciatore. While there seems to be an Italian theme operating here, those are just the dishes I remember.
Except. . .
Earlier this month, he answered the door to find outside a silver tray laden with a chicken casserole containing carrots and onions, a cherries dessert and half a bottle of Proseco. (The tray was tarnished, and Alfred returned it gleaming. Why kill the golden goose, as it were?)
For folks who think of the Big Apple as a cold, heartless place, this is what New York really is like. His obviously is not a building in which everybody doesn’t know your name.
Although I’d characterize my own co-operative as a friendly building, too, you can imagine that I’ve thought about moving to Alfred’s. But, alas, I don’t have his charm and doubt I’d lead such a charmed life there. Lucky guy, no?
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022