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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

How do the city's crankiest critics celebrate 30 years at New York? Very much in character.


Scene: A small corner booth in the Grill Room of The Four Seasons,
a little past 8 p.m.

The Cast: John Simon, fearsome Serbian-born theater critic and curmudgeon; Gael Greene, lusty food critic and author; Maer Roshan, their chaperone and editor.

G.G.: Scanning the menu Ooh, crisp farmhouse duck. It's one of their specialties.

J.S.: I don't eat duck, because I actually like ducks. I feel sort of anthropophagous if I eat a duck, because ducks are my friends.

G.G.: I try not to be so attached to anything that I can't eat it.

M.R.: John feels the same way about the people he reviews.

J.S.: That's right. Absolutely.

G.G.: If I order a duck, will you be positively depressed?

J.S.: No, because you will be eating it, and not I. I'm going for the baby octopus.

G.G.: Laughs Because you feel nothing for babies.

M.R.: Gael, do people recognize you when you venture out?

J.S.: I thought you'd be wearing a ski mask or something like that to be unrecognizable.

G.G.: It's impossible not to be recognized here. I used to have credit cards with other names -- now, perhaps 75 percent of the time, someone from the restaurant will recognize me.

M.R.: Then how can you review the service?

G.G.: I look around and see if other people have anguish on their faces while we're surrounded by waiters.

Waiter: How's the wine?

G.G.: Well, it's a little sharp right now, but I'm hoping it will soften.

J.S.: That comes from keeping our company.

M.R.: So, when was the last time

you were together, you and John?

J.S.: Together in what sense of the word?

M.R.: Laughs I don't even want to know.

G.G.: The only place we have ever been

together is at La Colombe d'Or.

J.S.: That's one instance.

G.G.: Oh, I don't remember the other.

J.S.: You see? I make such a feeble impression upon you. The other time was in a back room of this very restaurant.

G.G.: Oh, that I let go. La Colombe d'Or is in my memory because you were on a date. A beat With a married woman . . .

J.S.: And you were there with a porn star, right?

G.G.: I was there with my porn star.

J.S.: What was his name? Jamie something?

G.G.: Gillis. He was a wonderful companion. It turned out you had insulted him in some review. Though I don't know how you happened to be reviewing porn films.

J.S.: Just lucky, I guess. The porn star was a nice fellow.

G.G.: I was a little cross at John's date. I had written an article called "The Joys of Not Having Children," and she and her husband had decided not to have children because of my article, and then she went on to make non-parenthood an entire industry. John was traveling with her. We were in the south of France.

M.R.: Wait. John reviewed porn flicks?

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