Up the street from Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment in the West Village is Barbuto, a restaurant which serves the best roast chicken in the City. Hoffman, the restaurant says, was a regular. I saw him there once. I finished my chicken at the bar, triple-checked if I had my phone, keys and wallet, walked out of the restaurant, and turned left. He was walking in.
I told my mother about this on Monday. "It was only that one time," I told her. "He probably had the chicken. It's good."
Barbuto, its garage doors, its magical kitchen, a few seconds on a West Village sidewalk, and possibly its delicious chicken are the few tenuous threads that I have to this man and his death. I'm lucky in that I'm not a friend or a family member who has to live in a painful reality where Hoffman, a fixture in their lives, doesn't exist. I'm not even a die-hard fan. Yet, I still found myself wanting to quantify my relation to this man and this national event.
I felt/feel guilty and dumb for sharing this. And guiltier knowing that I've made fun of and snarked on people (you probably are related to one), "fans" if you will, who take national tragedies and parlay them into an opportunity to air their "unique" feelings.