I grew up in New York so I've seen it change. A lot. I remember the millions of "original" pizza parlors, the barber shops, the strip clubs, the countless bodegas, and I have to be honest, I really miss it. I don't want to sound like Old Man Rivers here, but for those of you who also remember what the City was like, you can't deny that for all of its problems, it had a unique character. So I was surprised the other day when I got a delivery for a pizza parlor on the West Side, near Chelsea. I rarely get to deliver to that part of the city let alone to a pizza parlor.
It was a simple order, sunflowers, that's all. Just a bunch of sunflowers. I entered the pizza parlor, on the walls were photos of famous people, their illegible signatures scrawled with messages of encouragement to the owner as music from a by-gone era played at just the right volume. Behind the counter was a man in his 50s twirling dough while two other employees worked the counter or placed the toppings. I walked to the register and was greeted with a response that could have been scripted in a movie about a pizza parlor. "Hey buddy, I'm married!" And then everyone burst out laughing. I would have laughed too, but I honestly believed I had traveled through time.
"These are for ..." I read the card now convinced I was being pranked, "Tony."
The man in his 50s turned around after sliding a pie into the oven. "No sh--! Those are for me?"
I handed him the bouquet and his eyes widened as he read the card. "These are from Janice! Remember that woman who was stuck on the BQE the other night? The one I helped? I told you she was giving me the eye!" His two employees slapped his back and wished him well on his new romance as I tried to imagine how it was possible that this place survived gentrification, rising rents, and the war on gluten. The Brooklyn-Queens Express Lothario turned to me and said: "You want a slice? On the house!" I may have my pride, but I'm not about to turn down a slice of pizza from a place that was obviously in some sort of time warp experiment from 1978.
I sat down and ate the greasy slice with a can of Coke and for one brief moment, I had the feeling that I had better get home and finish my homework in time to watch Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley.