Sunday, March 20, 2005

Stay in the Heights!

"Stay in the Heights!" is how Ben Vereen always signed cards and stuff, back when I was working in la theatre and he sent flowers to people with whom I worked. But, more importantly, Josh and I made a culinary adventure last night to Jackson Heights, where we ate ourselves into a food coma at the Delhi Palace, thanks to the recommendation of my pal Mike. Dinner was stupendous, although I have never in my entire life eaten so much food that I wanted to vomit -- until last night.

So, before dinner we were wandering around the Heights looking for a bar for a pre-dinner aperitif. We got a little lost -- from what I can suss out, once you get off the subway, the neighborhood stretches out in four distinct ethnic zones -- there's the Indian street, the Latin street, the Korean street, and the Fried Chicken street. We ended up walking down the Latin street and walked into a bar blasting salsa music. It was a basic bar that was mildly oddly lit with green spotlights. All the bartendresses were unbelievably scantily clad -- the shortest skirts and the tightest shirts ever. We took a seat at the bar and ordered a round of bevvies.

We couldn't help but notice a Giant lurking behind us -- he was almost 7 feet tall, with shoulders as wide as Refrigerator Perry's. He was bald and wearing a suit. He wasn't drinking, he was just pacing. Josh pointed out that it appeared that we were making this large man nervous, as he kept kinda checking us out. Hmmmm. We looked around the bar at the other clientele -- nothin' but dudes, none of whom were speaking to each other. And the Giant clearly seemed to be on some sort of security detail. Josh said, "Do you think we're in a brothel?" I said I didn't know, but it seemed like perhaps something was going on -- maybe there was a cockfighting ring in back? Wasn't one just busted in Queens just like week? Or maybe there was illegal gambling going on?

Then the bartendress came back over to us. "So, is this your first time here?" she asked. Uh, yes. "Do you live in the neighborhood?" No, we both live in Brooklyn but we just came up here for some dinner. "So this is your first time here. This is the best bar. I'm so glad you're here. Is everything all right?" Uh, yeah. And then she kept us company for quite some time, ignoring the other customers.

Never in my whole life has a bartendress asked if it were my first time here. Either we had stumbled into a neighborhood bar that culinary adventurers never hit, or else, uh, she was just really observant (and super friendly?)

Now, I was sitting facing Josh, with my back to the rest of the bar. Josh was facing the rest of the bar. He pointed out that at least five men had emerged from the back of the bar during the time we'd been sitting there. "There are at least five men sitting there who definitely did not walk in the front door," Josh observed. Curiouser and curiouser! And the Giant was still pacing, and still shooting us weird looks. We decided it was time to go to dinner.

"But you're coming back, right?" the bartendress asked. "Promise you'll come back. Please come back. Promise? Promise?"

Unbelievably friendly bartendress, or was there something else going on? We may never know. We didn't return because we were so sick from our over-consumption of friend vegetables and paneer. But, as Josh said as we were leaving, I do hope she finds the rest of her skirt.

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