Monday, April 07, 2008

From the Tea Lounge

Well, we just ran into our first bit of New York rudeness.

We've been hanging out at the Tea Lounge a lot. It's my kind of cafe (and Greg, you would love it here) with once overstuffed couches sprouting white tufts, long low coffee tables with peeling veneer, and shadegrownfairtradeorganic coffee made by cute hipster boys and girls.

Shelley just came back to our seat. Her fancy tea put my fancy coffee to shame, since my fancy coffee did not come on its own board.

She put it on the table and sat down. "The guy behind me - that guy - he just called me a homemaker!"
"What? A homemaker? Why? What did he say?"
"I called this a smorgasbord - get it? board? funny. i know. - and he said 'Oh. The homemaker speaks.'"
"Well, that's just rude. Rude! Why would he say that?"
"I know. I don't know. Cause he thinks I'm as old as his mom?"
"You don't look old. Can I blog it?"
"Just as long as you make sure to write that I don't look like a homemaker today."

I take a survey - converse, dark skinny jeans, black hoody, black tuque.

"You look more likely to rob a house than make one."
"Yeah! Write that too."

By and large, we've been raving, as we always do, about how nice people are here.

Saturday night we ventured over to Manhattan for our traditional Feast of Delicious at Da Andrea. Our two trips before, we've been staying just a quick walk around the corner. This time, it was us and the crazy subway system.

Theoretically, this should have been easy. We're a block and a half away from the F line on the Brooklyn side, Da Andrea is 5 blocks away from the F line on the Manhattan side. We got to the station, figured out the ticket machine, navigated the gates, went down the stairs. The platform was mostly empty, just two nattily dressed guys and us. And a bunch of posters all over the place that we hadn't bothered to read.

One of the guys turned to us. "You know what's going on here?" He gestured at the sign. It said something about Coney Island, getting to local Brooklyn stops, and, fuck, disruptions to F line service. For three days, the three days we'd be taking the train.

We all gathered round, offered up myriad interpretations. Most of it didn't make sense if you didn't already know the system. We helped them, they helped us, together we parsed out a way for them to get to their local stop in Brooklyn, us to make it to our fancy dinner. They were from Guatemala, but one of them had lived in Montreal for a while. We sat across the way from each other on the mostly empty subway car, chatting a bit back and forth.

When we got off the train, Shelley and I, I assumed that our sweet Guatemalan friends were behind us. They weren't. We didn't get a chance to say goodbye.

Coming back was going to be a breeze though, right?, because it was just the opposite of what we'd done. Not so. After our delicious dinner, we had a drink and didn't make it to the station until nearly midnight. When the service all changed around and the D train wasn't running to where we thought it was going to run, and there were loud announcements that we couldn't decipher and still didn't make any sense if you didn't already know the system.

Because this is what you do in New York, we turned away from each other and just asked "So, how do we get back to Brooklyn?" into the air around us. Two people answered. The woman, coarse wavy black hair down to her shoulders in a triangle, wiry gray through it, round horn rimmed glasses, perfect Bronx accent, "Oh, you wanna take the R train." at the same time that the man, neat grey flannel pants, navy windbreaker, close cropped hair with a curl of white at the front, broad face, forehead thinner than jowls, a softly lilting deep voice with no corners or edges, a warm voice you could just lean into and rest on, said "I'm going that way. Just stick with me."

We stuck with him. Sitting on the train, a questioning look in his direction as the next stop was announced, a slight shake of the head for 3 stops, then the nod. We waited for the shuttle with him. "I'm hearing an accent," he said to us. "Maybe European?"

We laughed. "Sort of. We're from Canada."
"What part?"
"I'm from Ontario. I'm from Nova Scotia."
This satisfies most New Yorkers. If they ask further, it usually has to do with Toronto. It's rare that I describe Ottawa as being close to Toronto, but I have here, a couple times.

He was a calypso player, had toured Canada, knew Toronto, Montreal, had played Jazzfest in Ottawa. Was a limo driver for 18 years, would never go back to the long boring waits for people. Loved taking transit.

The wind was chill, all of us hunched in. A bus came, not the shuttle, and we got in a dither over whether we should take it. He thought we should. We ran over, too rushed for a proper goodbye. By the time the bus passed the corner where we'd all been standing, our calypso player was gone, crossed the street, and we didn't get a chance to wave goodbye.


stares at the sky said...

I love this smorgas-board idea! I think I'm going to make one. I've been needing the use of a proper serving tray - but dreading the Martha Stewartness of it all. This is a great compromise. Maybe use some flat drift wood and then oil it up good. oh yeah...

M said...

Well, I live in the Midwest and saying someone looks like a homemaker is not an insult. In fact, the opposite is true. I remember once a guy told me I was like a New Yorker, then he followed it up with "but I don't mean that in a bad way."

I sm sure that I look like a homemaker some weekends but my dirty house and lack of food in the fridge attest to the fact that I AM not one!!