After racking the balls, he continues: “Anyway, to be honest, I don’t really like the whole idea of doing a ‘friends and family.’ With Freemans, we just kind of opened the doors and saw what happened. We had no idea what we were doing. If I have any plan, it’s really not to have a plan, you know, to just let things happen organically. I was kind of hoping we could do the same with this”—he scans the room—“but I guess that’s impossible now.”
The thought unsettles him.
“I think we need to do a shot,” Somer declares, but by that point the Rusty Knot has run clear out of liquor.
In February, buoyed by the success of Freemans, Somer purchased a property in Ulster County for a sum his parents continue to find deeply disturbing. A stone Dutch farmhouse dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, it rests on 38 secluded acres that include a barn, a detached den containing a pool table, a pond, a creek, a magnificent view of the Shawangunk Mountains, an expansive meadow, a number of towering oaks and evergreens, and a blandly suburban guest house built in the nineties that Somer pretends doesn’t exist. At the moment the house is empty but for three antique wooden chairs, a table, and a mattress that sits before the fireplace in the middle of the living room. Somer and his girlfriend, Courtney McGuinness, a petite 30-year- old who produces photo shoots, drive upstate every weekend with Georgie, their excitable Yorkshire terrier who walks with a limp after suffering a near-death accident too complicated to explain.
The property strikes a visitor as an ideal retreat for the quintessential Freemans Man, and with reason: Somer doubts he would have been interested in the house had he not opened Freemans. “You know how there are Method actors? Well, I’ve always thought of myself as a Method designer,” Somer says one afternoon while giving a tour of the house, with McGuinness and Georgie in tow. “I get sort of consumed by it. Like I get really into the character of the space. It’s hard to explain. Like with Freemans, suddenly my hair was kind of more slick, more coiffed, like I got this whole 1800s vibe going on.” He turns to McGuinness. “Do you know what I’m trying to say?”
“Sort of,” says McGuinness, who has the earthy, humble ease of someone who spent her adolescence in Vermont. “Are you talking about how you started wearing the suits all the time?”
“Yeah, the suits,” Somer interjects. He is animated now. “That’s when I started thinking about designing the suits, and then I did start designing them, and for a long time I didn’t wear anything but suits. Remember that? Sometimes I dressed to go to the store, and it was almost theatrical.”
“And now for the past year you’ve looked like a drunken sailor,” says McGuinness. “Your hair’s kind of long and greasy. You never shave.”
“Exactly,” Somer replies.
As he makes his way to a clearing by the creek, Somer describes how, fittingly, buying the house has gotten him thinking about what he wants to do next. “It sounds corny,” he says, “but I’m kind of into figuring out a way to be more self-sufficient. You know, like really getting back to the earth. I’ve gotten really into gardening, right? And the other day I was gardening—gardening!—and I started thinking, You know, what if I, like, become a farmer. I mean, seriously. Maybe the next thing I’ll do will be a farm.” But the more he speaks, the clearer it becomes that Somer already has a very particular idea of farming. “I’d like to have a farm where people could hang out and eat, and maybe there’ll be, like, a kind of metropolitan outpost. A bed and breakfast, but more rustic. I’ve been looking at some spaces in Brooklyn…”
He trails off. It used to be that he could just talk openly about his ideas, but lately he’s grown careful. Even out here in the woods, you never know who might be listening.