In one of my previous posts I had described going to New York City to watch my niece participate in the half-marathon in Central Park. We had stayed in a hotel across the street from Central Park , a rare treat for us , and it was a wonderful experience very different from the suburban life that we are accustomed to.
When we woke up in our hotel room on the morning of the race, it was to leaden skies and a driving rain. Standing at our hotel room window, sipping a hot cup of coffee, I did not envy the runners who would soon be braving the elements. Warm and snug in our room, there was a perverse , guilty pleasure listening to the pattering of raindrops,seeing them chase each other across the window glass and pitying the few hardy early-bird pedestrians fighting their way against the wind on the rain slicked pavement below. Soon we would have to join them but , for the moment, we were content to stand at the window and watch the neon signs flicker as the city slowly came to life.
The rain had slacked off , a little as we saw the runners off and then walked around looking for a place to have breakfast. Luckily, we found the European Cafe just a couple of blocks away on Columbus Avenue and quickly got in , out of the cold rain. We placed our orders and looked around , indulging in our favorite hobby of people watching. It’s great fun to observe people and guess at their lives.The place was only a quarter full but , by the time our orders arrived, there were people waiting in line for a table. Most of them were singles or couples but there were one or two lone parents with their children. The adults plumped for something sensible ( bagels, rolls, cereal) but the kids indulged themselves with donuts and pastries. Oh, to be that age again and not worry about calories and cholestrol ! The tables in the European Cafe were closely spaced and one could not help eavesdropping on neighboring conversations. At the table next to us , a young man was telling a girl about some mutual acquaintance who had broken up with his girlfriend ( again!) and was making a hash of his life. On our other side, a mother was trying to get her three kids to make their breakfast choices and to shush them at the same time.
Meanwhile we were sipping our coffee and it WAS good , very good. Or is it that looking out the door at the cold rain made it taste so great ? Whatever; we were ready for a refill by the time our orders arrived. I had asked for an everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese and it was the perfect choice. Usually I prefer egg bagels but the European Cafe did not have them . It worked out well for me because the toasted everything bagel contained salt ( along with the sesame seeds. poppy seeds, onion flakes and garlic) which well beautifully with the vegetable cream cheese. At home, I automatically apply only a thin smear of cream cheese but here they had slathered it on half an inch thick the way it should be . ( And well they should since they were charging $2.95 for it). Pure heaven, as only a New York bagel can be .The cream cheese too was of the superior, deli variety, not commercially made. It had larger pieces of the vegetables ( carrot, red pepper,celery?) that gave it a welcome crunch.
To make matters even better, my wife had her own bagel and so I did not have to share!
I would have liked to dawdle in the Cafe Europe a little longer but there were people waiting for our table so we paid the bill and trudged back to our hotel to await the end of the race. The Sunday N.Y Times had been delivered to our door and was waiting for me when we got back. As readers of this blog know, I stopped subscribing to newspapers last year and now rely exclusively on the Internet for my news fix. In any case , I would never have subscribed to the Sunday Times. At $ 5 a copy it’s too rich for my blood.Carrying it into the room I couldn’t help being surprised at its thickness and weight. It must easily have weighed more than two pounds , perhaps three. I couldn’t help remembering the old story about how a week’s worth of the Times airdropped in a remote part of Wyoming landed on the neck of a buffalo killing it instantly ! Another story that came to mind was of the devoted reader of the Sunday Times who was in the habit of reading it from cover to cover , every single word of it. He wrote the Times to say that it took him from Sunday to Wednesday to do this and to request that they put out another issue on Wednesdays so that it would keep him occupied for the rest of the week !
I myself had no such ambitions and so I spent the next few minutes stripping away all the sections that I knew I would not be reading. That led me to think how much of it was going to waste and to fret about what a wasteful method of information dissemination newspapers really are. Only for a few minutes though as I soon found myself under the covers reading the sports pages and rejoicing that my teams had won their games the previous night. Then I spent another hour doing the the Sunday crossword until was time to venture out again to see the finish of the race and applaud our neice as she crossed the finish line. Perhaps I should correct that to “ tried to do the crossword” . It’s much more difficult than it used to be …or so it seems.