21 questions

Tad Friend’s Favorite New Yorker Is Stuart Little

Name: Tad Friend
Age: 46
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Occupation: Staff writer at The New Yorker; author, Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor, which he’ll read from tonight at Barnes & Noble on 82nd and Broadway.

Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Stuart Little. He is plucky and romantic and he transcends his mousehood by ignoring it.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
Café Boulud, when Andrew Carmellini was cooking there, on my third date with Amanda [Hesser, the Times food writer and Food52 proprietress], who would become my wife. I don’t remember a thing about the food.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Listen to people on the phone and try to interrupt them as little as possible.

Would you still live here on a $35,000 salary?
Absolutely — that’s more than double what I earned my first year in New York.

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
August: Osage County. Funny, but kind of so what.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
Always to the silent ones with messages on a piece of cardboard about their travails and their plans to go home.

What’s your drink?
Red Stripe beer.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
A few nights a week I roast a few things, because roasting is easy. My wife is the real cook, but there’s not a whole lot of damage even someone like me can do to a chicken.

What’s your favorite medication?
Theraflu Nighttime Severe Cold. So many thrilling warnings!

What’s hanging above your sofa?
The rap sheets of six Georgia convicts.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
Thirty dollars seems like a lot for a ten-minute, “same as last time” guy like me — though my wife shakes her head when I issue such opinions, feeling that I’m getting into “In my day, the subway cost a nickel” territory. We cut our twins’ hair in the bathtub, and they look sort of scruffy afterward. But it grows out.

When’s bedtime?
Midnight. Midnight-ish.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
Old. In 1994, I walked around the old Times Square with John Schlesinger on the 25th anniversary of the release of his film Midnight Cowboy, much of which was filmed in Times Square. He was pleased and rather touched that it still looked like crap.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
He apparently lives in some alternate, helicopter and limo version of New York, so he and I, despite nominally inhabiting the same city, will never meet.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
People who walk slowly and crookedly, blocking the way: the so-called Meanderthals.

Who is your mortal enemy?
Myself, uncaffeinated.

When’s the last time you drove a car?
Two weeks ago, returning from our vacation on Long Island. Then I returned it to the nice folks at Avis.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
It killed my dreams of retiring at 85.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
Times all the way, with a shout-out to Twitter, which gives me not only breaking news but a curated alternate reality.

Where do you go to be alone?
A café called Tazza, which is where a lot of locals go to be alone and to surreptitiously check out Gabriel Byrne.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
They are gladly in flight from home.

Tad Friend’s Favorite New Yorker Is Stuart Little