The moon shines bright on my old 'Kentucky coffee'
WE ALWAYS confused Plaza Lounge and Park Kafe. At least, Leonard did. Then again, he's the one who mixed up the J, K, and M streetcar lines in San Francisco when getting directions. Yes, they share the same terminal stops, but so do we, and that's no excuse for confusing me with Anderson Cooper. We all end in the ocean; we all start in the stream; we're all carried along by firstname.lastname@example.org. Whoops — this is the start of the column, not the end.
Anyway, New York City doesn't have any streetcar lines, so now we just take the subway everywhere. But directions to the cafes near our subway stop still go awry. Park Kafe had the ravioli I liked, with pesto sauce, and Plaza Lounge had the lemonade Leonard liked, with mint. "Meet me at 6:30 at the cafe with the lemonade you like," I would say, pleased at our domestic chumminess.
Now: Shattered! I walked past the cheery red corner awning advertising Park Kafe, and saw a PC-printer sign taped in the windows:
"We have relocated across the street to Plaza Lounge!"
Does that make sense? Merging with a competitor and merely calling it a change of address? Such high jinks seem more appropriate to the Fortune 500, not the neighborhood brunch spot where I watched the World Cup final.
I overcame the nonsense and met a friend at the new Plazark Cafounge (my nickname) for a Friday drink. We grabbed a sidewalk table and I advised him on ordering.
I don't know why, but the cocktails at Plaza Lounge have always been huge. One $7 martini there has the same volume (and alcohol content) as three $5drinks at a normal bar. Are they trying to cut down on the number of trips servers make? Maybe it's just the generosity and slightly lower prices that differentiate Queens from Manhattan proper.
I asked for a vegetarian snack, got a giant hummus platter that included a dip with fish eggs, and reluctantly explained to the servers that in the future they shouldn't assume that vegetarians will eat fish eggs. (Northern California, how are you? I miss you.)
Dave ordered a mojito and it came in a cup the size of the Jolly Green Giant's cereal bowl. My booze-infused coffee arrived in a beer stein with sloping, Starbuck-ish sides — sort of a friendly, feminine, "Friends"-y stein.
We drank, I picked at my pita and we chatted about jobs and spouses. He ordered a second giant mojito to accompany my ultra-slow drink sipping. With no food in his stomach.
The nondrinkers in the audience may not know how subtly a drinker has to communicate to another drinker that the drinking is getting out of hand. "How are you doing?" or "Are you all right?" get said with peculiar, sympathetic, concerned tones and faces. "You're a coward with no
tolerance for alcohol and should stop making stupid decisions" does not
So we kept talking, and Dave said things about race that were not racist, but which might sound racist if printed as reportage in a newspaper. Funny how that works. Booze and personal trust make it easier to talk about sex, money, and race/class/gender analysis.
I decided my "Kentucky coffee" (a slur against the Kentuckian I know best, a teetotaler) would do best as company for a mediocre TV show or movie. If TiVo had come up with a harebrained suggestion and recorded it on a whim, so much the better. So I asked our waitress for a to-go cup.
As I'd feared, she came back and confessed, in a low voice, that her bosses forbade her from giving out to-go cups for alcoholic beverages.
Like any red-blooded American, I can't imagine why an open-container law should apply to me! And as my mother's daughter, I'm not going to leave a few dollars' worth of leftovers behind. So I waited till we'd paid the check, my friend had left and my waitress was looking away. Then I asked a different server for a to-go cup of ice water. I got it and furtively poured the water onto the sidewalk, filled the cup with my drink and left.
I hope people didn't mind the ice water puddle. It's New York — no one cares. And besides, it all ends in the ocean, it all starts in the stream ... oh, that's where that song quote goes.
Sumana Harihareswara writes for Bay Area Living each week. You can write to her at email@example.com.
Like any red-blooded American, I can't imagine why an open-container law should apply to me! And as my mother's daughter, I'm not going to leave a few dollars' worth of leftovers behind. So I waited till my waitress was looking away. Then I asked a different server for a to-go cup of ice water.