I’m madder than an art student with a two-legged easel over how much the city has changed since they built that darn Guggenheimlich Museum in 1959. You know, the funny looking building that was designed by Andrew Lloyd Wright or somebody like that.
Look, you all know that I rarely go into the city (that’s Manhattan, on the other side of the West River, to all you hipster-dipster whippersnappers out there that don’t know Bath Beach from Gravesend) on account of the fact that the batteries in Tornado, my trusty scooter, can barely get me from my home in Bensonhurst to Dyker Heights and back.
But that wasn’t always the case. I often like to reminisce about how awesome I was when I was younger, before my love of food got me to where I am today.
I don’t have to tell you that I was born, bred, and raised in Manhattan. But the call of Bensonhurst lured me away, as I always longed to live with my aunts, uncles, and cousins of all ages on Bay 41st Street, where I had 56 blood relatives living on the same unpaved street. It was Santa Mariaville, and I loved it. And I could get there on the West End Line, where I would get off just a few stops from Coney Island’s beaches, bath houses, and amusements of my youth (not to mention the meatball sandwiches!).
So, it wasn’t long before I moved there, and I haven’t looked back since.
Sure, I taught ballroom dancing at the Arthur Murray Fifth Avenue Dance Studio for years, and I enjoyed the night life that the city had to offer, and as a lover of the arts, I’ve been to the city’s many museums, like MOMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, but that was all pre-Guggenheimlich.
As fate would have it, on Thursday my wife had to have a medical procedure on Fifth Avenue, I had to get there with Tornado and my friend Sid on Access-A-Ride. Sid only came because he can walk and help Sharon, and to keep me company while she had the procedure.
Sharon was already in the doctor’s office by 9:30 am, so Sid and I decided to tour the affluent area of Manhattan where small townhouses are routinely sold for something like $10 million.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if I dropped that chunk of change on a house, there darn-well better be a good place to eat nearby, and for the life of us, we couldn’t find a McDonald’s, Burger King, or Subway anywhere.
So I persuaded Sid to come with me to the museum, since I’d never been there, and I figured it had a snack bar.
Well, let me give you my impression of this haven for impressionists: I have none! You know why? Because it is closed on Thursdays!
So we ended up in a small restaurant next to a Brooks Brothers or Coach store or something like that.
Of course, the place wasn’t very Tornado-friendly, and the waiters there had to open the double doors to let me in, then clear the aisle by moving some tables over, then remove the people — and the seats — from the counter so we could get through to the back and enjoy our meal.
By this time, Sid and I decided it was time for lunch! Sid ordered his usual: turkey on whole wheat toast with lettuce and tomatoes, no mayonnaise and white rice instead of the greatest thing the French have ever given us, fries. I ordered an “Amity Special,”: shrimp, chicken and London broil salad, telling the waiter that I didn’t want any onions.
Sid’s sandwich arrived, and it was almost as tall as Sid! I figured he would have to take half of it home, but he didn’t, devouring the very last morsel.
When the waiter came with my Thousand Island dressing and two Melba toasts, I noticed raw onions underneath the shrimp, chicken and sliced meat in my salad. I was livid.
So I roared like a lion “I said no onions!” and the waiter whisked my plate away. I was so hungry, I started dunking the Melba toast in the salad dressing. He came back with the salad and, without my asking, quickly brought me another salad dressing. Which was nice.
Sid and I were impressed with the total efficiency following the roar, so we decided desert was in order, especially since I had such a healthy lunch.
So got the $12 banana split, with vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream with three mounds of whipped cream, chocolate syrup and walnuts.
The waiter even apologized for not having any cherries, but offered me strawberries which are a healthy substitute.
I ordered lunch for Sharon — making sure she got French fries so I can have something to eat on the way home, and got the bill — an $84 lunch! Holy Toledo!
But at least I got a decent meal to hold me over during my miserable 125-minute ride home. Oh, and Sharon is doing just fine.
Screech at you next week — when I start my New Years diet!
Carmine Santa Maria prefers watercolors to oils. Read him every Sunday on BrooklynPaper.com