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Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 2004 / 9 Teves, 5765

Lenore Skenazy

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Consumer Reports

A restaurant full of beds? Yep, it's no lie | So I'm lying in bed with my neighbor - a woman - eating gourmet food, at midnight. In public.

Ho-hum. Can you please pass the salt?

That's what it's like in Manhattan these days, now that Duvet, a bed-filled restaurant, has opened in Chelsea.

What do I mean, a bed-filled restaurant? You know - a restaurant filled with about 30 king-size beds, tons of satin pillows and some very awkward-looking waiters bending down to change the sheets between customers.

Don't worry. Those stains are from the artichoke purée.

The scene? Well, Marla and I are eating the sea bass and talking about our kids. Pretty dull. But the man on the bed across from us is chatting up four young ladies. He looks macho, suave - and numb from the elbow down, since he has to prop himself up to face them. Plus, his toes are near the food tray.

On another bed, two men eat sitting up, each careful to keep one stockinged foot on the floor. Must be a first date. (Shoes go in a drawer under the bed.) On the wall, a giant screen plays video footage of anemones crawling among what look like sea insects.

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Uh, management might want to reconsider this visual. Ditto the gargantuan aquarium where dead jellyfish are floating in the aftermath of a thermostat malfunction.

But maybe not. The whole scene is so strange, so über-trendy, so over the top, of the moment - and did I mention the bathrooms, where you sit on the toilet and can see out, thanks to one-way mirrors? - that the entire experience ends up being just perfect, in that 21st-century, exhibitionistic/voyeuristic kind of way.

What makes it perfect is that by eating on a public bed or relieving yourself in a seemingly see-through stall, you get to live the ultimate American dream: scrutiny. Sheer, paparazzi-like intrusion into your privacy. Of course, rather than the public coming to you, you have to go to the public, but why quibble?

When strangers pay attention to your most mundane doings - eating, eliminating - you are living the life of a celebrity, or at least a reality TV star. Like the blatherers on everything from MTV's "Real World" to "The Apprentice," you are commanding attention despite your utter ordinariness. How heady!

Especially considering that most of the time, no one cares whom you are eating with - or even sleeping with. Just try to interest your co-workers in what's new with your bladder. It's tough.

But on a bed at Duvet you get to star in your own slightly naughty, slightly nauseating show.

Now, obviously, this is a novelty restaurant. Eventually, the thrill will wear thin, just like the sheets. Spoiled 'tweens will start demanding birthday parties there. Pizza will appear on the menu.

But for the moment, Duvet is the perfect embodiment of our times: shallow, silly, oversexed and ready to star.

Britney, watch out.

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JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

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