Last night Ian and I joined the throngs of current and aspiring Cove lifers at Anthony's Ocean View (aka "Ant-nees"--thanks, Heide!) for a wine tasting to benefit the kids' school, a real icon of the neighborhood and community at large.
Now, I've been to many wine tastings during the past ten years, from my stint as a PR lackey in NYC and a development chump for a local non-profit and everything in between, and I can tell you this: They are usually pretty standard fundraisers that feature a decent array of "Finger Foods" -- a term that has always grossed me out (gasp! my food's been fingered!) -- and two or three tables of featured wines from a local, esteemed packy that fancies itself a purveyor of fine spirits rather than a supplier of legal dope. Throw in a four-page printed program/ad book and maybe a silent auction, and you've got yourself an hour or two of fun for roughly 20-60 people.
That's the standard, anyway. But things in the Cove aren't standard.
Sometime around 6 PM Ian and I pulled into Anthony's parking lot, mystified by the lack of available parking space for this event. We slid the car--a shiny new Benz loaner, since Ian's older, fancy grocery getter is in the shop--into a spot between a Beamer and another Benz, and stepped deep into the mud of the venue's lot that is currently in the process of expansion. Hummers, enormous SUVs and brand spankin' new pickups dwarfed us as we walked in wet, dirty darkness toward the restaurant. Through the doors and into the thick of if it, we joined everyone from the neighborhood for a Cove Fabulous night.
In the shadow of yesterday's major mob bust in the NY region, close to 300 people descended upon Anthony's last night for a wine tasting to end all wine tastings. There were more than a dozen tables featuring roughly four to six wines apiece, presented by the reps from local distributors. More than ten food stations featured everything from mussels and clams casino, to stuffed eggplant, talapia, calamari (fresh, not fried), stuffed breads, assorted cheese and meat, and an enormous pasta station with several choices of pasta and sauce served by four chefs. In the end, we could cleanse our palate at the fondue station, featuring fountains of chocolate and white chocolate for dipping the likes of fresh strawberries, shortcake and pretzels. There was a small, but decent table of silent auction items, and a 32-page ad booklet for us to read at our leisure.
The decor of Anthony's is very late 70s, with mirrored pillars, heavy carpeting and low ceilings. After sampling the wares of a few distributors, however, the place was nothing short of totally awesome. Cove princesses strutted around, perfectly tanned with helmet coifs and the most perfectly and heavily applied makeup I have seen in a long time. At least half of the women looked as if they were related to me; the average height was about 5'3", and most of us were dark, curvy, and sassy. But since I lack fake tits, over-tweezed eyebrows, a sweater dress and CFM knee-high boots, I felt a little outside the circle.
It didn't matter. There was food to eat. And did we ever eat. And we drank. And we chatted with other parents who were eating. And drinking. And we all drank some more. Ian spotted familiar faces ("That guy used to come to Rudy's all the time!"; "I know that guy. He's a fireman..."; "That guy used to hang out with Thomas during the coke and heroin days...") and so on. I spotted more familiar faces than I could handle, mostly from my old neighborhood, since I grew up around here. We talked to a few moms, some dads, a few teachers, and nearly everyone referred to me as "Nolan's mom". That kid has charisma, I tell ya. People who don't even know him, know him. He is a charmer with a smile you can spot a mile away, and everyone loves him. He is only three years old, and is quite possibly one of the most popular kids in the entire PreK - 8 school. So, there I was, Nolan's mom. Mother to a PreK superstar, downing Malbec and Chianti alongside the principal, Vinnie Penn, and the rest of our parochial glitterati set into which I have been initiated, some with whom I share a past, and most of whom with which I will ride alongside into the great unknown for the next 10 years or more.
By 8:30, when the show should have been winding down, it was clear that all who remained--close to 200--were just getting going. People were getting housed. Uninterested in overbidding on silent auction items such as wine baskets and pasta packets, Ian and I slipped out, chatting with a dad -- another fireman, an Irishman (some of us actually have Irish blood around here; I'm a hybrid, a McGuinea) -- during our escape. We headed back out to the car, amidst more Beamers and Benz's and Volvos and Hummers, and shot downtown for one quick round at Firehouse 12. Then it was home to surf the web and peruse the latest real estate listings for the neighborhood.
As if we'd live anywhere else.
And this, for fun...
I used to have such a crush on that scumbag Sonny. That explains a lot: