The Christos’ charm was contagious, their energy preternatural, and their enthusiasm for good sushi apparent (and it was very, very good, as was the black cod in miso and the sirloin steak). Having visited Japan 71 times, they knew very well what they were eating.
Mid-meal, when Jeanne-Claude drew a long cigarette from out of her pack, our host, Dr. Alvin, came rushing over to inform her most graciously that here in New York smoking is not permitted indoors. Feigning shock (she has lived here for 40 years) and heaving a very Gallic sigh, she unseated herself and headed upstairs out the door.
Indeed, they are a unit. Even though he does not smoke, Christo dutifully, loyally, adoringly followed behind. Holding her bag while she efficiently disposed of not one but three quick cigarettes, he wryly admitted that although her smoking was not something he enjoyed, after 45 years together he was not about to try to change her.
How do they get that sprite-like energy, anyway? All night they bounced around like sylvan creatures who, were the sushi to run out, might survive equally well on mushrooms or nettles.
The next day they sent Mr. Henry a book which documents every moment of The Gates from its inception 26 years ago to its installation last year, a tome solid enough to have served as a column base for a Gate. Mr. Henry has not tired of turning the pages and reliving this divine folly, an event that rendered all of New York participants in a “happening.” Taxi drivers opined about aesthetics. Street vendors held forth on subjects of art criticism not normally included in their customer palaver. The whole city was chewing, digesting, and expelling their “take” on The Gates.
It was like a huge dinner party on the lawn organized by a couple of eccentric, expatriot New Yorkers, the kind who make this city great. Merci.