Introvert cool

Instagramm'd from NY Mag: Rob Greig/Camera Press/Redux

Instagramm'd from NY Mag: Rob Greig/Camera Press/Redux

I consider Bill Nighy a thinking girl's crumpet, even though it's gauche to describe another human being as a toasted cake and I'm not technically "a girl," ie "female child" (or, let's face it, "a thinker"). I saw him having dinner alone once at Cafe Fiorello, back when he was starring in The Vertical Hour on Broadway, a play that bored me out of my gourd and set off a long spell of Julianne Moore-hating. I don't know why I blamed her, when the whole thing was terrible and everyone involved equally culpable, but as the most famous cast member she became the focus of my ire. Eventually I got over it. Life is too short for one-sided showbiz grudges, especially when you are not personally involved in showbiz. It's like being angry at air, or frisbees.

The cafe sighting was exciting, though, and it's what established the crumpet angle for me, since eating dinner alone in some sturdy, non-posh Lincoln Center staple remains one of my top cool cat moves for grownups: it's such a signal that you're okay with your life and your choices and your own company, and there's nothing in the world sexier than that. It's not a heroic exploit or anything, I won't start giving out awards for it, but on a sliding scale of sophisticated, morally neutral acts it ranks pretty high. "Dedicated blog post" high at any rate. Plus Fiorello's is one of those places you pass in the dark that glows all warm and orange inside, and it features just the sort of private but not totally concealed booth you'd want to slide into if you were a solo performer far from home who'd grown weary of dining in your extended stay hotel room night after night and craved, say, a simple seafood risotto or veal chop Milanese in the midst of other culture-minded individuals. As in, separate but not in a snobbish way, a part of yet still apart from the whole milieu, and appropriate for certain theatrical or British levels of fame. Hence a textbook lone eatery for good ol' Bill Nighy. (Note that I have seen Renée Fleming and Patti LuPone and others at this same restaurant, so it's hardly an unknown hideaway, but they were both dining with parties, which requires zero effort or nerve.)

The good news is that Bill Nighy is back on Broadway right now in Skylight, with Carey Mulligan, which I saw last night and loved, not least because it continued his tradition of wearing coats really well, to the point where coat-wearing became a minor narrative theme. Maybe that's a plot thread they should've looked into for Spider-Man! Turn off the Dark! Just have him doff/don his coat all the time and bitch about the climate. Maybe it would've saved millions of dollars in embarrassment and frivolous lawsuits.

But the best news of all is that according to New York magazine, Bill Nighy is currently still eating alone at stylish yet sedate Upper West Side establishments and then prowling around Central Park, counting trees, which I guess is what I might do too if I had most of my days free. Cool cat moves there, crumpet! Look out for the raccoons.