by Slo Mo
I am the laziest specimen known to humankind, but even I have my limits, and this was the week when those limits caught up to me. In other words, I got bored. Plus, I miss the city like a son-of-a-bitch: the sights, the sounds, the smells. Okay, maybe I don't miss the smells. But is it too much to ask for a decent café au lait within walking distance and an all-night supermarket?
So there I was, faced with another beautiful, sunny day in paradise, and I didn't want any part of it. Didn't want to float in the pool. Didn't want to walk on the beach. Didn't want to rollerblade up Ocean Boulevard. Didn't want to swing on the hammock beneath the coconut tree... I wanted ACTION!
Imagine my delight when I opened the morning paper (after first convincing Dog that the second half of "fetch it" is "drop it") and saw a full-page ad for something called The Society Of Exiled New Yorkers. You can take the man out of New York but you can't take New York out of the man, it read. Coffee, camaraderie, and the occasional cult classic. 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday at Waldorf's Book Nook & Karaoke Korner. Fully licensed - persons under drinking age not admitted. ALL WELCOME!
I'm not from New York, but it did say ALL WELCOME. And I love cult films. And it would sure beat another day spent watching the grapefruit grow. So off I went in search of city folk.
Turns out the name is a bit misleading: Waldorf's Book Nook & Karaoke Korner is run by an ex-biker named Rocco. The only books I could find were some old Louis L'Amour westerns, a couple of Reader's Digests, and a guide to fish gutting. As for the "karaoke" part - we're talking a bullhorn and a Fisher Price keyboard. But the place certainly is licensed, which suited me just fine, even if it was only 12:30 and I hadn't eaten breakfast.
So I parked myself at the bar, ordered an extra tall Bloody Mary, and waited. And waited. And waited and waited...
Finally, Rocco put down his NASCAR tally sheet and asked, "You expectin' someone?"
"Uh, yeah. I'm here for the New York thing."
"OH! You shoulda said." He turned toward the back of the room and bellowed as only a Brooklyn boy could. "Mickey! MICKEY! Get the hell out here! WE BAGGED OUR FIRST MEMBER!"
In retrospect, that would have been the ideal time to make a quick exit, but my polite Canadian genes got the better of me. It seemed exceedingly rude to leave before Mickey and I were introduced, and Rocco looked so excited, and I hadn't finished my drink...
Well, I sure learned my lesson! Because before the afternoon was through, I:
- listened as two very large, very hairy men (Rocco on bullhorn, Mickey on keyboard) sang "Broadway Baby" in falsetto
- got pinched for a $15 New York "citizenship" fee
- pledged allegiance to the Statue of Liberty
- watched a 1950s slide show called "New York - tomorrow's city, today!"
- previewed Mickey's one-man ode to Central Park
- endured Rocco's emotional account of the Brooklyn Dodgers' last season
- wished I was invisible when they got in a boxing match over who designed the Empire State Building
- wished I was dead when they started crying and called for a group hug
If it hadn't been for that surprise visit from Rocco's parole officer, I'd probably still be at Waldorf's, sipping Bloody Marys and singing show tunes and begging Mickey not to show me his genital piercings. Fortunately, I managed to sneak out the back door and high-tail it down the block before anyone had time to notice that the one and only member of The Society of Exiled New Yorkers had renounced her pseudo-citizenship and gone back to her beach hammock.
On second thought, maybe I don't miss the city so much, after all.