Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Right Across the Street

New York magazine (issue dated May 3rd, 2010) arrived earlier this week. (Kim Chan’s long-term subscription, from which I had previously tried to free myself, continues.)

“Food/Openings” on page 52 notes that Thistle Hill Tavern, 441 Seventh Avenue at 15th Street, is scheduled to open in early May.

If Thistle Hill Tavern turns out to have a Bavarian feel, I might skip over, to relive some of the vacations I took with The Old One.

But when will a shoe-repair shop open nearby?

I take my shoes to a repair place several blocks away, a place where the people grunt at me.

If I discover that those shoe-repair people on Ninth Street are calling me Chinita or some such, I will stop going there. My oxfords and T-straps deserve respect, not epithets, and so do I.

Recently the professor who has an apartment on the third floor uttered the words Chinese woman! as she passed my door. I happened to be looking through the peephole.

The third-floor professor, chatting with her friends, made some unpleasant remarks about me.

I am sure that she considers herself superior.

It could be said that The Old One also considered himself superior. That was one of the reasons he resisted assisted living. “Those are ordinary people,” he noted after his first visit to Prospect Park Residence, where he moved in early 2007.

Kim refused to live alone in that strange place, so I stayed there, too.

Sitting in the ornate Theatre/Worship room, which was right across from our apartment, we whispered loudly that many people at the old folks home had no cheekbones.

We were proud of having matching black travel vests, and we showed them to the director of Prospect Park Residence. But we were even prouder of our high cheekbones.

After I read about it being common for the elderly to hoard newspapers, I became more serious (and active) about reducing my supply. Like Kim, I prefer not to be seen as ordinary.

For the first few months of this year, I did not cry. But I also did not throw out many newspapers. Now I cry a little, and I throw out lots of newspapers.

A friend in Lake in the Hills, Illinois, explains that before, I was stuck; but that now I am making progress.

Gentrification is sometimes seen as progress; at other times, as just the opposite.

When I moved to Chelsea, there were condemned buildings across the street.

When I moved to Park Slope, there were condemned buildings across the street.

I doubt that I will be socializing at Thistle Hill Tavern. Anyway, I do that at Parco (where the workers are artistic and dreamy-eyed) and Henry’s (where the workers speak rapid-fire Cantonese while serving banh mi and bubble tea).

The owner of Hanco’s (on the corner of Seventh Avenue at 10th Street) claims that the owner of Henry’s (on Seventh Avenue between 14th and 15th streets) stole his recipes. Apparently the owner of Henry’s was once an employee of the owner of Hanco’s.

So the day before Easter, Ira Glass interviewed me for This American Life, for the episode titled “Inside Job” (April 10th and 11th, 2010).

Glass and his staff were digging for dirt. But all I said was, “I eat tofu every day.” (Via e-mail, I also pointed out that while the fare at Henry’s is Vietnamese, Henry’s staff appears to be from southern China. And that Ten, the Japanese restaurant diagonally across the street from Thistle Hill Tavern, is run by northern Chinese.)

So the Slope scandal of dueling banh mi, surely a tempest in a bubble teapot, never hit the airwaves.

The people behind the counter at Henry’s were relieved when I reported the no news.

High up in the mountains, The Old One and I used to practice yodeling. That exasperated our hostess, Monika, whose house in Riegsee was rigorously clean and uncluttered. She let us know that she considered us both “juvenile.” It was not just the yodeling, but the way we cried out, “Wow, a cow!” whenever we saw one.

When the third-floor professor walks by, should I call her a bitch? Nah. “Wow, a cow!” would be so much better.

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