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September 29th, 2003

Sundays Were Wild at Felix

by Sara Goff

Sundays Were Wild at Felix and Still Are!I was walking down West Broadway on a recent sunny Sunday afternoon when I turned to my friend Kristine and said, “Remember Sundays at Felix?”

Suddenly, the sidewalk fair and parade of passersby before me vanished and I saw myself standing on a table waving a glass of Maracuja over a sea of friends, Felix hazily smiling. And a soir?e so full of life it never waited for sundown.

It started with brunch: eggs benedict at noon, unless we had closed Spy Bar the night before, in which case we’d push our way into the place, already packed with party people, around 3:00 p.m. With windows wide open to a breeze blowing through the hot bistro and a world of people laughing loudly. French, Indian, Spanish, African and American alike, not a drop of life felt wasted as hours slipped away. Happiness unbounded.

Waiters hoisted trays of steak frites and salad nicoise above heads; fistfuls of pitchers brimming with Bloody Mary, Mojito and Caipirinha sailed by. As the sun set over Soho, the sexy party spilled out onto the sidewalk. The music transported us to Ibiza or Saint Tropez or Cuba. And the energy was off the walls, as always. It was a ritual, Sundays at Felix. A time my friends and I would never forget.

“Those days were wild,” Kristine said and led me into OK HARRIS Gallery. Inside, I paused in front of a still life by R. Goings without questioning the pepper shaker before me-my mind in replay. So much has changed since then, I thought.

Kristine, director of Zwirner & Wirth gallery uptown, was then the shyest of our friends. Now she’s a fierce dealer on the art scene. Anton, who could put in 80-hour workweeks at Morgan Stanley and never miss a good time, is on his way to Indonesia. Of that family from the Congo, Carol and Anna have already deserted us for London. Benny we now see only on the covers of magazines; I think he’s currently shooting in Hong Kong. And Greta, our Dutch princess from Jersey, has fallen in love with a man from San Diego and fled the state. Jonas, that crazy Swede, got married (believe it or not) to a writer. This writer, in fact. Yes, even love happened at Felix.

Kristine and I stepped out of the cool calm of the gallery and into the chaos of Greek exchange students gawking at a street vendor selling life-size construction workers made of steel. It was the height of summer, high noon, and the sun sparkled on the sidewalk. We were on the corner of Spring Street and West Broadway. Felix was just up ahead. First I heard the music, growing louder as if it were catching up to me. Something Brazilian, or was it African beats? I turned, about to credit the yellow convertible driving by, but no, the music continued as the car cruised on down the avenue. I could hear that familiar symphony of laughter, only comparable to the sounds of a circus crowd or a carnival. Kristine pointed. I stared ahead. People were dancing on West Broadway. A celebration, a blaze of colors from around the globe flowed out of Felix, the fountain of youth it seemed at that moment. And then I realized in a flood of wistful feelings that those wild Sundays have carried on without me.

We walked slowly, watching from across the street, and there he was, the merrymaker himself. Felix stood under the doorframe, hands on hips, hazily smiling on his making likely the longest-running, most international weekly soir?e in Manhattan. We darted traffic to say hello and Thea, the hostess, whisked us inside as Jeremi whipped up our favorite fixings from behind the bar. In a happy fit of hugs, we related that life has been treating us well. After sharing a round and growing nostalgic, we waved good-bye and shuffled on our way. “They always come back,” I heard Felix say, “They always come back.”

Sara Goff is a fiction writer living in New York City. Her website can be found here

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