Thursday, March 31, 2011
Turning The Corner At Eddie's Deli
I was about 11 years old (plus or minus) when either my mother was in the hospital with a detached retina and my father was working or my father was hospitalized with pneumonia and my mother was working at Macys. I was left a note with a dollar bill telling me to eat my dinner, alone, at the local deli, Eddie,The Sandwich King.
I remember worring about the prospect. What, me Order a server? The very idea of having this sort of power probably caused another pimple to erupt. On the other hand I imagined a scenario in which I would walk in, sit down until closing time and remain unnoticed. I was, after all, a mere slip of a lad and not at all sure that I existed.
A few years earlier I sat in a dark movie theatre with my brother when a man groped his way along my aisle. Since my feet didn't quite reach the floor how could he, eyes still wide with the sun, know that I occupied a seat unless I rattled my Good & Plenty. Was I sat upon? Who remembers? I only recall the ignominy of even thinking that.
Maybe I had listened to too many radio programs such as the never-seen Shadow with his snickering laugh and warning what lurked in the hearts of men. Or was it the Lone Ranger who was off with the first note of the William Tell Overture as a townsman turned and asked, Where is that masked man, to which I may have murmured, Hi Ho Silver, away.
Away is where I preferred to be after being passed around a circle of uncles and aunts receiving the obligatory pinch of cheek and cloud of cigar smoke in my face. They would then remark on how I'd grown or not grown whereupon I was dismissed and disappeared in the tobacco air neither seen nor heard from again. Invisibility became my default position.
I put on a bright shirt for my deli dinner rather than my usual beige which blended in with the furniture and sat in the middle of the room improving my chances. My existence was confirmed when a waiter placed a plate of peppered pickles in front of me. Existential crisis resolved. I eat pickles, therefore I am.
In my mind I return to Eddie, the Sandwich King Deli and thank them for their part in helping me find myself, stepping into my own skin, not unlike a briny cucumber transformed into a pickle.