Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dinner with the Chief Justice

A fun story for your Tuesday:
October 26, 2009, 10:05 AM

Waiter, There’s a Gavel in My Soup

John G. Roberts Jr.
My writer friend Sidney Offit and I were dining at Lumi’s on 70th Street and Lexington Avenue on Saturday night with our mutual friend, the enduringly beautiful 78-year-old modelCarmen Dell’Orefice; and seated next to our table, quietly engaged in conversation with his wife, Jane, while sipping red wine, was the chief justice of the United States, John G. Roberts Jr.
Although it was raining heavily outside — so much so that the Yankees‘ playoff game at the stadium was called off — Lumi’s restaurant had few cancellations, and every table was occupied when the chief justice and Mrs. Roberts arrived to receive, as is standard in New York, barely a nod of recognition from the onlookers and not a trace of effusion from the waiters, most particularly those who lent service to the justice. It is one of those clichés in Manhattan to remark upon the restaurant population’s indifference to celebrities of any kind, ever.
We at our table, true to form, paid the Roberts couple no mind, although after two hours of pretending not to notice them, we were certainly respectful (and grateful) when, as they stood to leave, the chief justice himself said: “Excuse me, but we cannot possibly finish this wonderful bottle of wine, and I wonder if you’d like to try it.”
“Oh, thank you, Mr. Chief Justice,’’ I replied, and then added my own admonishment (how brazen of me!) “… but only if you’ll sign the label.’’
Unhesitatingly, Chief Justice Roberts removed from his jacket pocket a ballpoint pen, and scribbled on the label his name: “John Roberts.’’
After they had left, and we were about to leave, I handed the autographed (half-empty) bottle to Carmen. She was pleased to carry it home. On the label read “Chianti Classico 2005,” from Villa Mangiacane.
“It’s from Firenze,’’ she explained, adding that this is the region of her ancestry. She had a renowned uncle from there, she went on to say — Enzo Dell’Orefice, a voice coach who tutored Caruso.

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