This is a difficult post to write. Elaine Kaufman passed away last week. I posted a notice on my Face Book page at the time and mulled over what I would write about this great New York character.
Elaine's was the place where I used to go fairly regularly in the 1980s. She always donated a case of wine, as a raffle prize, to any benefit for which I was a committee member.
Then I gave up living in the city due to losing my home/apartment when the landlord died and the heirs got greedy. Ancient history.
Whenever I was in Manhattan, I still made a bee line for Elaine's. She always had time for me (even though I'm the unknown playwright -- to her I was a writer, which was important to Elaine). When I was out of town for long periods of time -- which incidence increased of late, as the economy worsened -- we stayed in touch by mail.
Elaine is a character in my novel, and lots of scenes are set in her saloon. (I recently discovered that Stuart Woods sets lots of scenes in Elaine's in his novels, too; though his sell books lots more than mine, for sure.) Did I do Elaine justice in the book? Probably not.
The last time I saw Elaine was in her place shortly before Halloween. Just like the vampire in my novel, I'd polished off a bottle of Veuve Cliquot with some friends while the Yanks were getting eliminated from the post season. Elaine waved me over to her table. It was clear her strength was waning. We talked a bit. She told me she had taken my book home to read, and enjoyed it very much.
I gave her a kiss and said goodbye.
R.I.P. Elaine Kaufman. There will never be another.