First question my mother asked after walking into our 30m2 apartment of three (Sorry, writing in American here, there are no flats in New York, they are called apartments.): “Where is your liquor cabinet?” I was ashamed to admit that I did not have one, but quickly averted the blow by blaming the size of our apartment which wouldn’t fit one and the fact that there was a liquor shop just around the corner, which pretty much meant extended living room. So technically, no, I did not have a liquor cabinet, but a whole liquor store in my living quarters (apartment is a really long word and easily misspelled I find).
Off we went. Mother’s first purchase in New York: two bottles of white for her, two bottles of red for me. Her first argument followed shortly after when we tried to return a corked bottle. Good luck with that in New York.
The stock lasted for a day and a half and I think then she realized there is no point for me to own a piece of furniture dedicated to store alcohol. It will just be an empty something most times and that is sad.
The next day when we had run out I decided to go a bit more uptown (where they will take your corked wine back without calling you a bitch) and took her to the premier snobby Italian eatery Cipriani on Fifth. There I discovered something shockingly. My mother is an undercover super secret spy. Almost most definitely. The conversation went as follows:
Mother: The guy over there is a bodyguard.
Me (reading the menu): Yes, mother.
Mother: No, really. Look at him.
Me (still reading the menu): Yes, mother.
Mother: No, really. Several reasons. Reason a) He is dressed all in black, very formal. Even too formal for a place like this at lunch.
Me (moving on to the pasta section): Yes, mother.
Mother: Reason b) He is sitting all by himself in the middle of the restaurant yet close to the door.
At this point it would have been just plain rude to ignore her further, so I looked up fainting interest.
Mother (triumphantly): And reason c) he is nibbling on a Coke. A Coke!
(I should explain here that you can use the word nibbling in German for pretty much anything, and in this case she meant taking tiny sips with his straw, so not really drinking, but pretending to, so no one will notice that he is in fact a bodyguard.)
Me: Okay, let’s assume you are right. Who is he body guarding?
At this point I am hooked and we both sank deeper into our chairs, hid behind the menus and looked what we thought was inconspicuously around. I couldn’t see anyone who looked remotely famous or even ridiculously rich when my mother got a predator look on her face.
Mother: It’s these two guys over there.
Some random looking men in their fifties in polo shorts. Nothing to write home about at all.
And before I could even tell her not to be silly, she had gathered all of her but few English sentences and courage and was chatting up the Bangladesh busboy.
Mother: Sir, look. This man sit over. There. Bodyguard. Yes?
Busboy: Yes, madam.
Triumphant look towards me from mother.
Mother: And sir, who? Bodyguard with?
The busboy now looked over very discreetly to the older gentlemen in polo shirts and I of course got another triumphant look from mother.
Mother: Sir you know? Men famous, you know?
He did know. End of story my mother just saw an incognito Israeli minister. The type who is really important, but not easily recognized; one of those who actually do things, you know?
Well spotted, mother! I would have thought she was an undercover spy if it wasn’t for the fact that she almost got us arrested outside. She took full five minutes to light her cigarette, lurking in a corner while trying to get a better view on Mr. Minister.
P.S. My Mum loved the Cipriani Bellini so much that I bought her two cans of the mix at Dean & Deluca and sent it to her a few weeks later by mail (as in postal service). The stuff is great. I thought she would just add some beautiful, vintage champagne and could feel like she was back on her secret mission at Cipriani. What did she do instead?
Mother: Oh, meine Liebe, the juice was soo delicious, I drank it all by itself.
It better be soo delicious if you pay $14 for a can of peach juice including shipping.