I always wanted to be Cary Grant when I grew up. You know, suave, debonair… but somehow the plan didn’t work out. Who knows maybe Cary did as many embarrassing things as I have (that’s what I tell myself), but at least I’m man enough to share them with others. Why? Because every time I think of them, I laugh at myself to tears – so I figure, why not bring joy to all my friends out there that read my rants. Here’s one that came to mind - Go ahead, laugh it up, I can take it…
Had an entire conversation with someone who wasn’t talking to me
I had just gotten married and was feeling really good about myself – my cancer was in remission and my appetite was starting to come back so I went to my favorite deli in Brooklyn – a place called “LANDY’S” on Avenue N, up the block from where our apartment was located.
Landy’s would pack out on Saturday’s and so I walked in and took a number and patiently waited for my turn. I knew the owner, his son and some of the people that worked there, but not all of them, as they would put on temporary helpers on Saturday’s to keep up with the crowds. A few people already had come over to me and said hello – some had found out I had cancer and everyone was being so nice… “Yo g, it’s good to see you buddy!” …that kind of thing.
The line moved pretty fast and soon enough I found myself at the front of the line. The counters in Landy’s were pretty high because they had a big, beautiful showcase of prepared foods built into it (I can still picture those stuffed peppers and eggplant rolatini…mmm). Anyway, I start scanning all that fantastic prepared food in the showcase and I hear this man behind the counter say, “Hey buddy, how are you man!”
I smiled to myself - it felt so good being so popular in the neighborhood deli, so I started shaking my head like Ralph Kramden from the Honeymooner’s and without looking up from the showcase I replied, “I’m great, I’m feeling better every day!”
“How’s your wife?” the guy asks me.
I smile again and this time I’m really impressed. His voice didn’t sound familiar to me and not many people knew I had gotten married in the neighborhood. So I reply, “She’s the best. Her only flaw is her taste in men.”
This is where it got weird. He asks me in front of the entire store raising his voice a bit, “Did she make any babies yet?”
WOW! Talk about being friendly …and familiar! I mean, I know everyone in Brooklyn are friendly people, I grew up there, but WOW! Plus, I had only gotten back from my honeymoon the week before. I don’t blush easily but my face turned a little red and I almost didn’t know what to answer him, especially in front of a whole deli full of people. Nevertheless while I started pointing at the stuffed peppers, I thought quick and replied, in just as loud a voice as he was using, “BABIES… ask me that next year!”
Here’s where it got really weird. The guy replies to me, now loud enough for the whole store to hear, “I’ll come over and help you, it’ll go quicker with the two of us working on it!”
WOO WOO WOO! Now that was not cool! What in the world?!
I finally look up from the showcase to give this guy the evil eye when my jaw hit the ground. The guy that I thought was talking to me from behind the counter was talking on the PHONE to his friend named BUDDY!
Now, I’m standing there in shock (before the humiliation kicked in) staring at this guy and he’s looking back at me with this quizzical look that I will never forget. He gets off the phone and says to the guy next to him, “That was Buddy, he just bought a pit bull for breeding.”
The guy next to him replied, “Is he coming tonight?”
To which this guy replied, “He wasn’t gonna ‘cause he’s doing some work on his car, but I’m off in an hour so I’ll go over there and help him.”
Apparently the guy never even saw me (my being height challenged) behind the counter.
The humiliation still didn’t fully set in until after the guy took my order and I turned to walk out. This little old Jewish lady who was next in line smiled at me, winked and said to me,
“Good luck with making the babies!”
(There are more, I might as well make this a series…)
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Dean Wesley Smith