Concettina Died and Other Stories of the East Side

Can I Get A Side of Drama With That Burger?, posted February 10, 2008 at 06:06 PM

Honestly, sometimes you just have to be a cranky New Yorker. I mean, at some point, it becomes a beat-'em-or-join-'em scenario. So today, I joined 'em.

I'm sitting at the counter at Veselka, awaiting my cheeseburger. A big-boned woman with a large presence and fried hair suddenly arrives at my left, sloshes herself onto the stool and onto me all at once. I recoil in horror as she adjusts herself into her seat, her long fried hair draping onto my shoulder. I pull away to get it off me. She starts barking requests at anyone and everyone on the other side of the counter--never mind that none of those people is her waiter. None of them is a waiter at all, in fact--they're the cooks. Just as sudden as this crackpot's arrival now is the arrival of another crackpot directly behind me. She's gunning for Crackpot #1. "Why'd you hit my car, bitch?!" she yells. I kid you not, this is my late afternoon lunch at Veselka.

Crackpot #1 yells back, "You practically ran me down!"

Crackpot #2: "No, I didn't, bitch!"

It's two crackpot bitches--one white, one black--having a showdown over my shoulder, literally. I swivel around and glare at both of them and say, "Do you mind?"

Crackpot #2: "Yes I do mind, this bitch hit my car!"

Crackpot #1: "You practically ran me down! Go home! Leave me alone!"

Me, turning back to the counter and addressing the staff that has gathered in front of us in obvious amusement: "Can you get these people away from me, please?"

Crackpot #1, still yelling: "Go away! Go home!"

Crackpot #2: "Go home?! Go home?! I'm gonna take you out, bitch! What's the matter with you?!"

Crackpot #1, to the waitress who has just arrived at her side: "I want an order of blintzes and a cup of coffee."

Cook, from over the counter, to Crackpot #2: "Ma'am, your disturbing the customers."

Crackpot #2: "I don't care! I'm disturbed by this bitch!"

Crackpot #1 turns away from #2, and faces the counter. She again calls out to the staff on the other side of the counter: "Can I have a cup of coffee?"

Crackpot #2 walks to the front of restaurant, berates the cashier, and walks out. She gets in her car--illegally parked halfway through the turn from 9th Street to 2nd Avenue, pulls up to the curb on 2nd Avenue, gets out, re-enters the restaurant, berates the cashier one more time, leaves again, gets in her car, and drives away.

Meanwhile, Crackpot #1 is crossing her legs and putting the bottom of her shoe directly on my leg. I say, "Excuse me, could you stay in your own space please." She huffs, uncrosses her legs. Over the next fifteen minutes my burger arrives, her blintzes and coffee arrive, and eat my messy burger. She's fussing and fidgeting and adjusting and annoying the hell out of me. Finally, she moves her coat from under her to on top of her lap--draping in onto my lap as well. I don't look at her. I take my ketchupy fingers and "accidentally" wipe them all over her coat since, after all, it was covering up the napkin that was on my lap.

I do this three or four more times. Crackpot either never notices or knows better than to start something with me. She finishes, pays her bill, removes her coat off my lap, and leaves. I hope cockroaches feast on the ketchup smears I gave her.

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