Neighborhood Plays: Saturday In New York

redsoxnation_350.jpgSo it’s Saturday morning in New York, and we’re at the First Avenue Coffee Shop, this great little place where you can still grab breakfast for under five bucks, and that includes endless coffee refills and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. It’s been in the neighborhood as long as I have, which is a long time, and I never checked it out till maybe a month ago, shame on me.

Anyway, I’m forking scrambled eggs and home fries into my mouth when I overhear Suzy, the waitress of waitresses who seems to run the joint, talking to another customer over at the counter.

” … and all of a sudden, they don’t want to talk Yankees-Red Sox!” she says.

My writer-in-search-of-material receptors whipping up into the air like I’m some kind of bug, I look across my table at The Wife, who’s quietly snoopier than I am.

“You happen to hear who she means by ‘they’?” I ask.

“Red Sox fans,” she replies, chewing her muffin. There you go — didn’t I just say The Wife was a major snoop? “She was telling the guy that they don’t want to talk Yankees-Red Sox anymore now that the Yanks are in first place.”

I swivel around in my chair to look at Suzy.

“You a Yankee or Red Sox fan?” I ask, dutifully checking The Wife’s facts.

“A Yankee fan!” Suzy says, and eyes me suspiciously. She seems vaguely upset by the mere suggestion that she could be anything else. “You a Yankee fan?”

“I write a column for the YES Web site,” I say.

“Great,” she says. “What’s your name?”

I tell her. She promises that she’ll check me out online, brings the coffee pot over to our table, freshens up our cups, and formally introduces herself.

“We heard you talking … ” I begin.

“Red Sox fans come in here, they catch it from me,” Suzy says before I finish my sentence. “They think they can walk around New York with their caps, I let them have it.”

I look at her. It’s nine o’clock on a weekend morning, and the place is already jumping. People from every cultural background and financial status under the sun are mingling at the counter like they’ve known each other all their lives, like they’re best friends or family at some kind of reunion, with Suzy here being the queen of all things breakfast-wise and master of ceremonies rolled into one.

And then it hits me that the only people she won’t tolerate in this New York melting pot of a coffee shop are Red Sox fans. Perfect.

“Pleased to meet you,” I say, slyly shaking her hand.

Slyly because I know I’ll be doing a whole lot of hanging out at the coffee shop from now on. And that you’ll be hearing plenty about it.

_______________________

“Did you just say you were going to the Yankee game today?” asks the woman at the table across from us.

This is maybe 10 seconds after Suzy’s headed back around the front counter. We’ve seen the woman here before, reading the New York Times while eating cereal and cantaloupe and stuff between sips of coffee.

“No,” I answer. “I was just mentioning that I write this column about the Yankees … “

“Oh,” the woman says. “You know, my son and his friends bought Yankee tickets from a scalper a couple of weeks ago and they turned out to be counterfeit.”

“Ouch,” I say, shaking my head. “That stinks.”

“They were really looking forward to the game,” she says.

“I bet.”

“It was Bat Day.”

“Adding insult to injury,” I say. “Next time maybe he’d better go through StubHub if it’s at the last minute.”

She asks me what StubHub is and I explain.

“The kid grew up in the city,” she says after thanking me for the skinny. “You think he’d know better than to get ripped-off by a scalper.”

“Hey, no shame. I grew up in Brooklyn and got ripped-off lots of times,” I say.

I’m suddenly remembering when I got scammed out of a full week’s minimum-wage record-schlepper’s pay while trying to help some guy who claimed to be a lost Jamaican sailor. And remembering when I was walking toward the F-train subway entrance on 42nd Street at one or two in the morning, and a bunch muggers with knives swarmed me out of nowhere, and I made a break for it and bolted downs into the station with all of them on my heels, and got lucky enough to run smack dab into a cop with a German shepherd at the bottom of the stairs.

I’m remembering those misadventures, and a couple of others too, and secretly thinking that, for every time I got robbed or suckered, at least I never had a lousy ticket scalper make a fool out of me outside Yankee Stadium.

And then it occurs to me that only in New York City can one person feel he’s got something over another person because he was ripped-off in a way that’s less embarrassing, relatively speaking, at least in his own mind.

In Maine, when people talk about getting ripped off, they’re making price comparisons between the local supermarket and Wal-Mart.

_______________________

“Too bad our game was washout, huh?” says the guy with the corner fruit and vegetable stand.

Done with breakfast, The Wife and I have just passed his stand on the way back to our apartment when I hear that snipped of conversation.

I glance over my shoulder and notice the produce man’s talking to an older guy who’s stopped to check out his goods.

“Yeah,” says his customer. “Ruined my whole night.”

“Well, today’s sunny!” says the fruit man. “No more rain!”

The customer holds his palm out as if to confirm it, then nods his head.

“Yeah, you’re right,” he says. “It’s beautiful.”

“What are you going to do in this beautiful weather?”

The customer gives the fruit man a look that implies he has to be kidding.

“What else?” he says. “Stay home and watch the Yankees on TV.”

Which I’m thinking is about the closest many New Yorkers get to outdoor activity when the Yankees play a day game … and happens to be exactly what I plan on doing on that gorgeous June day.

7 Comments

Great blog Jerome!!!

Even here in Tampa our days center around the game on YES. Even here we run into the Yankee fan working some counter that suddenly becomes our favorite place, even here with the Rays and yes, Redsox fans do I have to constantly fight for conversation when the Yanks are where they are supposed to be, first place. It is a country wide, if not worldwide problem apparently.

One note to everyone out there, we literally on a Friday night got tickets through Ticketmaster online to the Phillies game on Saturday, (yes, we are in Florida and flew up for the game). I will never rely on getting burned by scalpers, never have and never will. Try Stub Hub or Ticketmaster, it makes life easier.
Kevin

Great article Jerome!!!

Love your blog JP…Well you already know about the friends I made during the winter who were from Nantucket and spending their time here in Hawaii. All I can say is glad we bonded during the offseason. But tell Suzy they might be one of the Sox fans wandering NYC in their Sox hats. Go get um Suzy!! (;

Hey JP, I like your wife, make sure she’s with you at places like that. Does she go with you for any Fenway games?
I hope the right Andy brings it home for us tonight! A way back i have used scalpers for a Fenway Park game.

I’m anxious to see Suzy put some Sox fans in their place sometime. Those poor souls better watch out.

My wife’s never been to Fenway. Maybe later this season.

Kev . . . thanks.

Val . . . Aloha!

The only problem with day games is – what do you that night? Listen to a Red Sox game and root for the other team?
-RabidCoyote

Hey Rabidcoyote,

That is exaclty what I do…do I know you cause you know me-hahahaha

Go Yanks…AJ looked pretty bad last night, let’s see if Wang can right the ship and fiinally pitch us to a win againts the redsox.

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