By Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Stephen sondheim passed away. His 1970 show, “company” won a Tony award one of the most memorable songs in the show is title, The Ladies Who Lunch. Patti Lupone, Cleo Laine and Carol Burnett sang the song.
Here’s to the ladies who lunch
Lounging in their caftans
And planning a brunch
On their own behalf
Off to the gym
A toast to that invisible bunch,
The dinosaurs surviving t he crunch
Let’s hear it for the ladies who lunch
Everybody rise! Rise! Rise! Rise!
Barbra Streisand (“hello, gorgeous”) wrote about the winter of 1960: “For sixty-five cents you could get a piece of fish, a heaping helping of french fries, a tub of coleslaw, and some tartar sauce at the smoky little diner on broadway just south of Times Square.”
And in New Yawk Lawk by Robert Hendrickson, we learn the meaning of the term “eat’m and beat’m: a humorous name New Yorkers had for cafeterias where the food (generally sandwiches and drinks) were left out on tables for customers to choose from, each customer trusted to choose from, each customer trusted to add up his or her bill honestly from t he prices listed." (few such places were left by the 1980s).
Studies have shown that “ladies who lunch, rarely need therapy.
In 2021, Americans ate out between 4 and 5 times a week, on average. That’s 18.2 meals a month eaten out side the home. They’re not all wealthy and have a large amount of time.
Just visit your local. Diner—especially during non-peak hours-and you’ll find a yiddish club and a canasta group fill ing up the tables.
What has been said about ladies who lunch?
Sirio Macedini: “In the eighties, we had the ladies who lunch, the Power Lunch-everybody was power. At the beginning of the nineties, things changed.
Erma Bombeck,”I haven’t trusted polls since i read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour....”
Elaine Stritch: “There will always be ladies who lunch always. And apparently they live a long time.”
Mal Z. Lawrence wrote about a scene at a Catskills hotel: “In the dining room, people who haven't read a newspaper in years begin to study the menu...you want a borsht? Potato? No potato? One potato. Two potato? Did you ever eat garni? Garni? What is garni?”
FYI: Ruth & Bob Grossman define “ah bissel borsht” as follows: “What Mrs. Michelangelo put in her son’s thermos veryday when he was working at the Sistine Chapel.”
Betty White: “l unch is usually a hot dog and french fries or omething equally devilish ”
Orson Welles: “ask not what you can do for your country. Ask hat’s for lunch?"
Rabbi Jack Moline wrote about “the new ten commandments:
- I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the Egyptian house of bondage and delivered you to the International House of Pancakes.”
Carol Burnett took Carol Channing (Hello Dolly) to eat at Chasen’s. Channing ordered a plate with nothing on it to be delivered to the table. She then reached down into a picnic cooler she had brought with her. She unwrapped a slab of raw blubber and enjoyed it. (Source: This Time Together - Laughter And Reflection by Carol Burnett.)
Long island members of the Red Hat Society-now open to women of all ages-share many activities, including going out to lunch.
Totie Fields’ favorite meal was “breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-between."
Molly Katz (Jewish As A Second Ianguage) discussed the places where one should converse: the supermarket, the department store, and in a restaurant. Her advice: “If you see people you know, hurry to the table no matter what stage of their meal it is. They’ll be eager to chat with you and introduce the tablemates. Make sure everyone joins the conversation. They can eat anytime.”
Molly Katz writes about takng an elderly relative out to eat. She can’t decide what to have. Her advice: “read her ltte entire menu. Don’t leave out any of the helpful descriptions (“served with piping-hot fresh-baked rolls and a garden-crisp salad’). Read it nice and loud. Other patrons may need help deciding.”
Sonia Sotomayor: “Merienda” is a midday meal; light lunch, snack.”
Marjorie Wolfe can be found at Ben’s Deli asking the counterperson for “a corned beef sandwich, lean, from the middle of the brisket” and a glass of “two cents plain.”