Sat, 07/24/2021 - 7:18am

Let's Do Lunch

Michael Faulkner explores the pre-Westminster friend zone

Getting together with dear friends during the recent celebrated Westminster Kennel Club dog show, along with witnessing my friend Patricia Craige Trotter bring grace, dignity and experience to the final night, added to the thrill of being part of this historic event.  

I arrive Thursday late morning at the Westchester Marriott. Upon checking in, fellow judge / friend MS.PATTY-PIXIE sneaks up from behind with love, a hug and an invitation: “Let’s do lunch! MS. KIM will be going, too.”  

“Sounds like a great plan. I need to get my five-mile daily run in, and afterward, I will meet you in the lobby,” I reply while trying to maintain my composure from breaking out into full throttle song. You see, my daily life is filled with musical opportunities that I cannot control. Trigger points are words, expressions, moments in time that remind me of a particular song. When this phenomenon occurs, it must cycle completely. MS. PATTY-PIXIE’S - “Let’s Do Lunch” sends me down a COLE PORTER path of no return with “REGRETS” – originally performed by ELLA FITZGERALD, and later by BETTE MIDLER.   

Ear buds positioned, and strapped to the PRECOR treadmill, I serenade no one (thankfully the exercise room is empty) while channeling BETTE’s rendition of PORTER’S classic.

“Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today
Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today
She is sorry to be delayed
But last evening down in Lover's Lane she strays
Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today

When she woke up and found that her dream of love was gone
She ran to the man who had led her so far astray
And from under her velvet gown
She drew a gun and shot her love down….”

The treadmill automatically slows down to a fast walk at the five-mile mark. Thankfully, I have no more “REGRETS” and exit the fitness center, proceed to my room, shower and then to the lobby to lunch. “Hopefully, nothing will trigger my inner singer / song neurosis anytime soon,” I share with the universe while exiting the elevator.  

While proceeding to the front desk area to meet MS.PATTY-PIXIE and MS.KIM, I run into my dear friend DR.DONALD. We embrace like close friends do when they have not seen each other for an extended COVID-19 period of time. 

“Hon – I’m joining you for lunch and I’m going to drive.”

“Excellent!” I reply while at the same time the girls join us. We proceed to DR.DONALD’S new BLACK LEXUS RC COUPE sports car. 

“You gotta have friends!” DR.DONALD quietly shares while I walk to the passenger side of the sleek black car. 

“Damn it, DR.DONALD, did you have to say that?” I, once again, fall victim to another spontaneous singer/song moment “FRIENDS” by BETTE MIDLER:

“Cause you gotta have friends

That’s right, friends, friends

I gotta get my, I gotta get my, I gotta get my

Look around and see all of my friends

Oh, friends, that’s right, friends, friends

Friends, friends, friends, friends, oh

Friends, you gotta have friends.


I amuse myself with an abridged version of the song before lowering myself into the passenger front seat with MS. PATTY-PIXIE and MS.KIM packed into the sporty, yet tight back seat. I navigate, DR.DONALD drives, and the back-seat ladies entertain for the short ride to the restaurant – Hudson Farmer & The Fish.  A quaint waterfront bistro with a relaxing vibe situated on the Riverwalk in Sleepy Hollow.  

Prior to our arrival, I google LEXUS RC Coupe for personal data points on my friend’s new ride: “With its muscular form and aggressive stance, the RC seamlessly balances bold styling with dynamic performance. In front, a daring fascia announces its arrival, while strong character lines sweep toward its dramatic rear valance.”

“Sweet Jesus, no wonder my friend DR.DONALD purchased this car.”

It’s a beautiful, sunny afternoon and the hostess seats us outdoors, waterfront at our own private picnic table at the far end of the restaurant. DR.DONALD and MS.KIM sit on one side of the table, and MS.PATTY-PIXIE and I on the other. DR.DONALD is directly across from me with MS. PATTY-PIXIE to my right. 

The pleasant waitress brings water for the table and leaves us to peruse the menu. My first order of business prior to viewing the culinary options is to deal with the vase of dead flowers on the table.

“OK, I cannot focus on anything until I salvage these dead flowers,” I speak to the table while at the same time projecting yet another singer / song moment through engaging the ROLLING STONES – “DEAD FLOWERS”:

Take me down, little Susie, take me down

I know you think you’re the queen of the


And you can send me dead flowers every morning

Send me dead flowers by the mail

Send me dead flowers to my wedding

And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave…….


I toss the dead flowers over my shoulder, around the corner of building. I rise from the picnic bench and pull a large handful of exotic, ornamental grass that divides the seated dining area from the sidewalk. With intended artistic flair, I quickly arrange a stunning, yet simple feng-shui arrangement for our outdoor dining pleasure. DR.DONALD rolls his eyes, clearly knowing me long enough to fully understand my neurosis, and refrains from making a comment that would probably send me into another singer song moment.

The four of us are clearly in need of this special lunch time. With pent-up COVID-19 anxiety, there is not a second wasted in joyful conversation and laughter. 

The waitress comes back to the table, compliments the new floral design and takes our orders.  MS. PATTY-PIXIE orders an artisan brick-oven pizza, DR.DONALD chooses the fish & chips, and MS.KIM and I choose the scallop salad with smoked bacon and sunny-side-up egg. 

“Excuse me, I have a question!” MS.KIM speaks directly to the waitress. The three of us wait in anticipation. “Can you tell me if the scallop salad has scallops on it?”

I wait for a second before breaking out in a fit of laughter, in the event I did not hear the question accurately. MS. PATTY-PIXIE loses it first, I am not far behind the chorus of chortling, with DR.DONALD staring aimlessly in MS.KIM’S direction trying to comprehend the question from some deep-meaning psychological perspective, and the poor waitress has not a clue how to respond. 

Louis Armstrong appears to my singer/song side and we begin his rendition of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”:

“So if I go for scallops and you go for


So, all right, no contest, we’ll order


For all we need each other so we

Better call the calling off

Let’s call the whole thing off


The waitress assures MS.KIM that the scallop salad does include a healthy portion of scallops.


We continue lively conversation admiring the expansive views of the Tappan Zee Bridge, or, as some refer to it, the Governor Marion M. Cuomo Bridge (no comment), when out of nowhere GEORGE & CATHY, the fabulous duo from FRESNO (who had just finished their lunch), appear at our quaint picnic table. Just looking at these two sends me into a singer / song spiral before they even speak. Zac Efron fills my head from ear to ear with “It Takes Two.” DR.DONALD looks at me with deep concern while I mumble.

“That I’m your man

And you’re my girl

That I’m the sea

And you’re the pearl

It takes two, baby

It takes two…….”


I snap back to reality when CATHY blurts: “WOW! Now that’s impressive. Look at the pecs!”

Like a periscope, I slowly turn my neck to the right, and feast upon the most glorious shirtless creature parading in our direction. With five highly evolved dog judges and one woman who has the art of appreciating beauty down to a science (CATHY), we watch and evaluate his every move as he saunters by. CATHY fully expresses her appreciation to the young Adonis with a fist pump and a verbal shout-out: “Whatta man!” Leaving me no wiggle room to escape singer / songwriter SALT-N-PEPPER’s “Whatta Man”:

“Yeah, yeah (ooooo)

Uh, hey hey

All right, yeah

What a man, what man, what a man,

What a mighty good man

Gotta say it again now

What a man, what a man, what a man,

What a mighty good man

Yes he is

What a man, what a man, what man

What a mighty good man…..”


Thankfully, he moves along at a swift pace. I dare say if he had stopped, we would have all been in some serious trouble, if not arrested. Try to explain that to the WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB show committee.

GEORGE takes a seat next to PATTY-PIXIE and genuinely shares his pure joy and excitement with his WESTMINSTER judging assignment. “I can’t tell you how proud, honored and excited I am to be asked to judge. You know, this is my first time judging WESTMINSTER.” 

DR.DONALD and I look at each other, smile and read each other’s minds. GEORGE’S authentic expression and feeling warm our hearts. “It makes no difference whether it’s your first, second or your tenth time – each time the letter/invite arrives in the mail, it leaves you filled with pride and excitement,” DR.DONALD and I express, almost word for word, at the same time. 

Lunch is served. GEORGE & CATHY go on their way, leaving us to continue our celebration of the historic WESTMINSTER weekend. MS.KIM smiles in appreciation at the sight of scallops on her scallop salad, MS.PATTI-PIXIE savors the subtle flavors of her brick oven pizza, and DR.DONALD is left in shock when he cuts into his battered fish fry to find no fish! 

“Where did the fish go? There’s no fish in my fish fry?” 

“Well, I guess you should have asked if there was fish in the fish fry before you ordered,” I laughingly offer, as the waitress brings a new piece of fried fish. (And now I know, too, that the inquiry, “Does the scallop salad have scallops on it?” is certainly appropriate – at least in this restaurant.)

We depart the quaint waterfront restaurant with a new sense of purpose and respect for friendships, and our mutual gratitude for being part of the WESTMINSTER weekend. MS.PATTI-PIXIE and MS.KIM somehow manage to, once again, adjust their frames to fit into the back of the BLACK LEXUS RC COUPE. DR.DONALD leads the way, I navigate, and collectively we are happy to be able to LUNCH TODAY!



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