This morning began with the alarm clock – I
promised my wife
I’d be out of bed by 7:00. By 8:00 I’d put gas in the minivan, bought
and picked up a relatively new employee to join us on the way to New York. When I pumped the gas I noticed how cold it was out.
By the time we were passing Armonk, New York, I’d
my light jacket and noticed that the climate control fan was running a
fast. So fast it was making a racket. Wonder of wonders, I had to turn
air conditioning so the damn thing would slow down a bit. They say
efficient than opening the windows and placing drag on the vehicle (but
admit that I like air conditioned air).
We picked up our final passenger at his apartment
on the East Side by 11:30. Our destination was Panang, a wonderful
Malaysian restaurant on 2nd just south of 83rd
Street. Sure enough, a metered space was available. It ate six quarters
paltry hour’s time).
The particular blocks on 2nd Avenue
right around the
lower 80s are chock-full of restaurants; all of them open at 11:30, except
Panang. There was a fellow inside mopping the floor and he motioned to
ten fingers and then two; they opened at 12:00. Not very competitive if
me. You see, the problem was, I’d had two cups of coffee on the two
from West Hartford, and man, to put it delicately, I was floating.
to burst. Had it not been that we were on an Avenue, I might’ve tried
into an alleyway and relieve myself. All I wanted of this beautiful,
was some time to walk around, free of the, er, discomfort I felt, so
could enjoy the outdoors to its fullest.
Well, I walked into one restaurant, a Chinese one,
politely (in Mandarin) where the bathroom is. They replied in English
only!” I told them I wasn’t hungry, but I needed to use a bathroom and
glad to buy a soda… “Customer only!” I guess buying a soda doesn’t make
customer. On the way out I took a take-out menu and wrote “shit-list”
The next place was a sharp-looking Italian spot.
alone, sir?” The others were walking around outside, enjoying the
responded in the affirmative and said that the others would be
right away, and that I’d avail myself of the bathroom first. “Our
for customers only, sir.” What did I look like, anyway? I was wearing
slacks, a pressed shirt open at the collar, and a supple leather coat.
it was the ponytail that’d scared these two. Surely the place
door, a very glitzy Asian-Fusion spot would understand.
No luck. Not even with Mandarin. I was laughed out
place, in fact, when I offered a $5 bill just to use the bathroom. Did
think I would use it to take a bath? Maybe they thought I’d
to shoot up.
We passed a bar that was open. In I went, the
asked me “what’ll ya have?” When I asked where the toilet was, he
the direction of a corner of the room; workmen were tearing apart the
room and re: the ladies’ room, he
asserted that “the water’s shut off; you’ll have to wait.” I made a
call the Health Department.
Finally, the witching hour arrived. Panang was
Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I am free at last! I
bee-line for the loo, whilst the other three were sat at the same back
we’d visited maybe three or four times, recently.
A pounding came at the door.
“Yes, just a moment please!” I tried to sound as
possible, given the circumstances.
“I’ll be finished in one minute!” Now I was
Finally, the pounding sounded more like explosions
small room than a polite knock. Before I washed my hands, I unlocked
There stood a small fellow in a white shirt and tie. “Customers
washroom!” His voice was screechy.
Out I walked and I tried to go around the corner
table. My wife, our employee and our banker giggled but said nothing as
little fellow started to show me out of the restaurant!
I cried out to them “okay, c’mon, the joke’s
giggled but said nothing. The man had put me out the front door and
something in Maylay that I’m sure was off-color. I stood outside for a
enjoying the weather, and then realized that it was probably time to
quarters in the meter. I’d show them, the dirty bastards. I walked past
again, looked inside, and nobody made an effort to get up. Soon I was
again met with the angry glare of the boss’s face.
That was it. Yet another bar had opened for
plodded in, sat down, and ordered a Campari and soda. I was sipping
the barkeep said, “That’ll be $8.”
My wife had my coat; in my coat was my wallet. All
I had on
me was about $2.00 worth of change. I tried to explain to this guy what
going on, and he wouldn’t hear it. He took the drink away from me, and
“now ya just get outta here and don’tcha come back!”
The thought crossed my mind to find a cop and put
an end to
this nonsense, at least by retrieving my coat. I had the car keys, and
driven away in the minivan and spent some quality time alone parked
river, or in Central Park.
Upon my return to Panang, the gig was up. The boss
extremely apologetic and wondered why my wife and friends would play
trick on me. I responded by asking him why he’d jump the gun so fast
I wasn’t a customer, and pound on the bathroom door. His face turned
and he told me “they gave me $10 to do it; I am so very sorry sir.” I
responded, “not as sorry as I am.” I ordered a Tanqueray martini, up
onions, this time.
(Oh, by the way, the meal was fine, as usual. And
back and paid the bartender the $8 and guaranteed him a bad writeup in The
New York Times. I think he believed it because the other three
whilst I paid up.)