The bar is quiet except for the performers. People are swaying and smiling, but aside from these small movements, no one would know that people were having a good time. I sit back and listen, taking sips of my drink which I now recognize as a Long Island Ice Tea. The drink is good for bar quality, but far from stellar. I can’t see much of the band as the booth we are sitting in is on the far side of the bar. It’s rumored that this is the booth Al Capone would sit in with his henchman. They could keep an uneasy eye on both doors. I am appreciative of this historical perspective as I realize that I can also watch both doors for John.
I look at the large painting of sailboats on a cloudy day at dusk hanging above the booth. The picture feels as if it is brooding, upset by being placed in such a place. The only light comes from the tall white walls of the lighthouse and the spiritual feeling of the church, although even its spires and windows fall under a shadow. The heavily sculpted framing is thick. Its deep brown is only a few shades lighter than the wood paneling of the walls and booths. The crisp white table cloths offer a stark contrast. Red lighting gives everything a sinful feel, much like it must have felt to go to a speakeasy under prohibition. The new owner has done well in keeping with this theme.
The singer introduces the band and I listen to the solo rhythm of a drummer exhibiting skills outside of the confines needed to play as a band. He is good and generous applause follows his final flourishes. The piano player takes over, followed by the trumpet and saxophone. The singer encourages them with soft humming and oohing. Desi’s eyes are fixed on the stage daydreaming of the day she can play this stage. I smile at the idea of sitting in a VIP booth, listening to her deep voice seducing her audience. I clap as the band converges into a single unit. They play one more number and then break.
Desi turns to me smiling. “Oh my God! They are sooooo good,” she enthuses.
“I know! I’m loving this. And thank you again for everything.” I raise my glass and we clink rims, each taking a drink. We talk about Wollensky’s, about men, and about music. A half an hour later, the band reappears for their last set. We sink into silence and listen. Slowly, the crowd clears out, headed to other popular destinations. I see the stage and the VIP booths. There is a booth with four or five people in it. One of the men has deep brown hair, but the way it lays tells me it is not John. The other gentleman has blonde hair and a woman under each arm.I continue to watch the band. There expressions flit from lighthearted to focus to pure joy as they move through the movements, paying attention to the subtle shifts of the others. They are back light with pink and green lights. There only competition for attention is the white statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest. She stands tall, confident in her unearthly origins, carrying grapes that nearly sweep the floor. She seems to offer protection to the musicians.