Thanks, all these years later!

One of the things your friendly bartender likes about working in New York, is the chance to meet all the different people who don’t… those people who visit. And because we’re often recommended, dear reader, by several hotels in the area, not to mention our good word of mouth from here to Europe, we get our fair share of tourists along with our regulars. And I love that. For it not only gives me a chance to maybe show off what the hell I know about where they should go, but I also get a chance to learn about where they are from. And sometimes, (as I wrote in this old post), an amazing coincidence occurs from one of those encounters. Now here’s another one.

When Tony our revered greeter (all eighty six years of him now) was still able to wait tables, he always made it a point to let me know when he had a customer who hailed from Pittsburgh. My home town. And frankly I’m glad that he did because it often led to a wonderful exchange of info. You know… the places in common, the things in common, our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers, and sometimes a mutual acquaintance on that rarest of occasions. Like this one…

“Hey, Mister Bartender (I swear that’s what he calls me), I got you over here some very nice people from Pittsburgh. C’mere.”

“I’ll be with you in a minute,” I shouted back, “just a sec.” So I finished my pour, I scanned the crowded mahogany to see if it was safe to leave my post without anyone hitting their forehead on the bar weak from thirst, then I made it over to the table-of-five next to Tony.

“Sooo,” I began, ever the gallant host, “where in the Burgh do you nice folks hail from? The last stop for me was a place called Greentree, South Hills.”

One of the two guys at the table spoke up first. “Well,” he said, “we’re actually outside of Pittsburgh from a town called New Castle. Do you know it?”

“Do I know it? I went to Slippery Rock College, for God sakes, just down the damn road. In fact my freshman year roommate came from New Castle. Any of you ever hear of an Eddie (Italian name)?” The table immediately fell silent and all wore Cheshire cat grins.

“I dated an Eddie (Italian),” one of the women then offered, utterly amazed. Now bear in mind, dear reader, this took place rather far from the scene and a good twenty five years after the fact…. we’re not talkin’ last Tuesday just down the road! “Eddie,” she went on, “was the first love of my life, I’ll have you know.” Then all three women giggled as did the men.

“But when did you date?” I inquired, ’cause if this was my guy I had a story to tell.

“All through high school,” she replied, “and all the way through his freshman year of college. As in… Slippery Rock College!!!” Bingo, that’s me roomie. Holy smokes, dear reader, what are the odds???

“Well then all I can say to you is… thank you, thank you for all of that pasta!”

“Excuse me?” she said. Then she glanced across at her friends who were equally perplexed.

I looked back over my shoulder to see if anyone’s head was resting face down on the bartop, which it wasn’t, then I pulled up a chair and set about explaining my statement.

“See it’s like this. Eddie was so lovesick over you that whenever he returned to campus on Sunday after spending your week-ends together, he had no appetite for the food his mother had packed for him. Which I sure did. And because of you and what you did to that poor little guy’s stomach, no one on campus ate better than me Sunday night. And I mean it! His Mom sent along all this amazing stuff…. some stuff I never even heard of… plus all the dishes I knew about like the noodle entrees, the chicken catchatori, lasagna, antipasto, you name it… and by Tuesday I was speaking with an Italian accent. And I freakin’ loved it. It was the best of times and the worst of times… the worst for him and definitely the best for me. So again,” I added with a smile and a wink to the table, “thanks for all of that wonderful pasta and thanks for making Italian my favorite cuisine now.”

Then, after a few more stories in common and a little more Pittsburgh, we all shook hands warmly, I gave Eddie’s Ex a kiss on the cheek then I walked by a beaming Tony who couldn’t believe it. “And thank you, Tony, for the nice heads up,” I added as I passed him by, (Tony who was raised in Turin no less), “how’s that for Pittsburgh with a slice of Italy?”

Over and out from Bar-land… see ya’ next week-end!

22 Responses to “Thanks, all these years later!”

  1. 1 Anonymoustache December 12, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Great story, man!
    BTW, on my stops in the ‘Burgh I have stayed many times at some fine establishments in Greentree, close to the (now sadly almost-deserted) Parkway Center Mall. Makes for a surprisingly easy commute to the Universities—plus you get to drive thru the tunnel and emerge into downtown (always a great view) and catch a glimpse of the stadia to the left. Good times.

  2. 2 physiobabe December 12, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Another classic, Scrib. Thank you kindly. “catchatori” – pure gold!!!

    Hope you’re feeling well, il mio dolce.

  3. 3 scribbler50 December 12, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Anonymoustache: Thanks, Bro, glad you liked the post and my fair city. There’s no better surprise than coming out of that tunnel and then “voila” the three river confluence. Remarkable!
    Thanks for checkin’ in.

    Physiobabe: So you liked that “catchatori” huh? Good because I had to Google that spelling. And I am feeling better, by the way, thanks for your good wishes.
    Until next week, ciao!
    Oops! I guess the joke’s on me, bella mia, as a more thorough Google Search has revealed that it’s supposed be spelled “chicken cacciatore”… catcha’ my drifta???

  4. 4 Comrade PhysioProf December 12, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks for making the point that New Yorkers actually love tourists. This pernicious idea that New Yorkers are mean or nasty to tourists is a load of crap. SO LONG AS YOU GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FUCKING WAY ON THE MOTHERFUCKING SIDEWALK!!!!!!!!!

  5. 5 Petro December 12, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    I shall resist the obvious Douglas Adams reference and simply say, “Thanks for all the posts!”

  6. 6 physiobabe December 13, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Haha, Scrib, I’ll make a buon Italiano outta you yet!

    I agree with PP, NYers are much nicer and more helpful than they’re given credit for. Oops, ended my sentence in a preposition, a “no-no” in Inglese.

  7. 7 scribbler50 December 13, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Physioprof: Good point, Prof, New Yorkers aren’t rude they’re just in a hurry. As you (ahem!) so delicately pointed there out at the end! But seriously, just ask someone for directions on the subway and four other people will chime in to help. I once saw a scene like that and after the person who did the asking was well on her way the three or four parties who had helped were still arguing over which had the better directions.

    Petro: Thanks, man, truly appreciate the kind words.

    Physiobabe: I’m tryin’, Babe, I’m tryin’.

  8. 8 Comrade PhysioProf December 13, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    I once saw a scene like that and after the person who did the asking was well on her way the three or four parties who had helped were still arguing over which had the better directions.

    Now that is classic New York style!!

  9. 9 jc December 13, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    *I’m sharing a punny brain wave with ‘stache*

    You said Ciao to the Chow!!

  10. 10 kristin December 13, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    so how did you get from Slippery Rock to NYC? (I went to Grove City).

  11. 11 scribbler50 December 13, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    JC: Very punny, very punny, you kidder you!!!

    kristin: Hey, Grove City, the only time I ever caught a pass in a football game was against your fine school. I caught five in what I remember to be a preseason thing or something, the rest of the time I was on the bench or relegated to special teams. Not what you’d call Saturday’s hero, eh? And how did I get to New York? In a plane from Lost Angeles where I had spent ten fun years. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. 12 Sven DiMilo December 13, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    South Hills to LA to NY?
    Hey, me too.

  13. 13 jc December 14, 2009 at 12:35 am

    jeez Scrib, you’re a fucking Burgh magnet!

  14. 14 scribbler50 December 14, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Sven: Hope your journey has been as much fun as mine. All the best.

    JC: Yeah, we “Burghers” stick together… we’re real “Hams” like that. Hmmm… could there be another pun in there, JC?

  15. 15 blue girl December 14, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Great story, Scribbler! It be a small world after all.

    New Yorkers have always been kind to this Clevelander. Especially when we decided to make our trip to the city a few weeks after 9/11. (We had booked it and paid for it before 9/11.)

    And speaking of Cleveland. You heard the Browns beat the Stillers the other night, right? Just wanted you to know, you know, in case you didn’t. Cuz you never know when someone might not have heard new like that. So, I’m always here to help with that kind of stuff.

  16. 16 scribbler50 December 14, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Blue Girl: Geez, no I hadn’t heard about that Stiller thing, ya’ know, cuz, well I don’t know… I just kinda’ missed it or something, ya’ know?. So thank you SO damn much for bringing that up. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hey, glad you were treated well here, B.G., and I look forward to continuing that tradition the next time you guys come to town. Cheers!

  17. 17 blue girl December 14, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Always here to help!

    And just so you know, The Skimmer’s a Stillers’ fan. Like a mad crazed lunatic!

  18. 18 scribbler50 December 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Blue Girl: So the man has good taste in both women AND sports!

  19. 19 brenda December 15, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Been “away”, Scrib. depressed. but what a wonder you are to come back to. And reading TWO posts… Well, it’s as good as watching two MadMen episodes back to back. Pure pleasure.

  20. 20 scribbler50 December 15, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Brenda: Ahh, Mad Men, I missed that damn show already. I wish TV shows, at least the good ones, were ordered like they were in the old days… twenty six episodes per season and then back on the air after at least a tolerable hiatus. Seems like, as with the Sopranos at the end, Larry David now and a few of my other favorites, they make us wait an eternity after giving us only nine or ten episodes.

    But of course more important than all that, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been depressed, we’ll have to have that cocktail real soon. Pleas feel better, my friend, and welcome back!

  21. 21 Your Friend Ken December 16, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Hey Scribbler, I finally found your blog. I’m happy I was able to help out Monday night and look forward to seeing you on Friday night. I hope you have good news on the test results. All the best my friend.

  22. 22 scribbler50 December 16, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Ken: Thanks again for your help and of course the good wishes. You’re a friend indeed.
    Enjoy the blog.

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