A cool foggy Saturday morning in May, I’m sitting in a nearly empty LIRR train on my way to Penn Station to see Eugene O’Neil’s Desire Under The Elms and I can’t resist going back to Prune for what I’m sure will be a fantastic brunch. I have to be careful to avoid a lot of walking, my left foot hurts on the instep, it feels like a pull but it might require a trip to the foot doctor. So of course favoring my left foot has messed up my right foot too so I’ll be using mass transit a lot more than I like, so it’s a subway tour for me I’m afraid. That’s okay as I need more experience on the subway and with the rain expected today It”ll be okay to be low and dry! When I arrive I do go topside to check the weather, I guess I’ll always feel a little stifled by being underground too long. I see that there is no change so I go back down and head for the 1,2,3 subway line to take me to 42nd St where I can take the 7 across to the 4,5,6 downtown. Sound confusing?, it can be for newbies but I know my way around a little and double check to make sure I’m right before I wind up in nowhere land. The subway stations are hot and stuffy today and I notice mostly young people are riding today, a few families but mostly students and workers.
I stop to help an old man with directions, he’s going to the Yankee game so I help him navigate a little since the young police officer trying to help him didn’t seem to know which subways he should take to get there. I whip out my New York traveler book to show the subway map and we figure it out. Later, the young policeman asks to see the guide again and I strike up a conversation with him about my plans to become a tour guide while I wait for my train. I’m excited about this and can’t help sharing it, maybe he will remember me and someday I might need his help. I have to start making friends and contacts here now, I will need them in the future if I’m going to be successful. I ride down to Spring St where I’ll get my bearings again and maybe buy a hat from a street vendor. I have overshot Prune by a few blocks so I have to walk up and over a little , I find a little butcher shop called the Albanese Meat Market, in the window is a paper clipping showing the shop was once filmed for a documentary called The Last Butcher in Little Italy on IFC (the Independent Film Channel) and is located on Elizabeth Street. I resolve to go back for Memorial Day weekend when I will have a three day holiday and get a real good steak for grilling from this shop before it’s gone too.
My feet feel good So I enjoy my walk to Prune, it’s about 11:00 am and it’s already packed so I wind up at the bar where I sat last time, some kind of karma I guess. To my left a young Asian girl takes photos of the bartender, while waiting for her food. When it arrives I see that she has ordered eggs benedict, she examines it closely lifting the toasted English muffin off the plate peering underneath like she’s searching for something. “What are you looking for? I ask quizzically. (Yes I am nosey!) She says blushingly that she was “trying to see if she could pick it up” She resigns herself to eat it with knife and fork and puts a giant piece in her mouth, not bad for a little girl.
I sip my strong coffee and watch the bartender work till my food comes, I ordered stewed chic peas with tomatoes and Panko covered poached eggs with a side of hand made lamb sausage, it comes with toasted flat bread points and it is super! I will duplicate this at home for dinner, it would be a nice protein rich meal.
I finish my meal with a second cup of coffee while a young Asian couple moves into the space vacated by the girl from out of town who by the way took pictures of her plate before she ate it! The young couple orders, oatmeal with fruit for her and deep fried oyster omelet for him, both get drinks too. I think they are on date judging by the conversation, they question each other about ordinary things between mouthfuls of food. I talk with the bartender while he makes Bloody Mary’s like there’s no tomorrow. But I’m done and the crowd outside tells me it’s time to move on and give someone else a chance. I love this place, I will be back soon but right now I walk slowly trying not to aggravate my feet, I walk up a few blocks and over an avenue or two. I take note of places and things like never before, getting a greater feel as I do for where I am and how to get from place to place. I gravitate down to the Washington Arch by way of Greene St and pass by Edward Hoppers old apartment continuing up to the 1,2,3, line of the subway which I descend into and take back up to the theater district and get off at 42nd St. I walk to the box office and get my ticket and ask about a good bar nearby, the man behind the window tells me to go to the place on the corner. But after walking down there I decide not to go in, too dark and stodgy looking. I can’t see inside and I find a better spot at Smith’s Bar, a landmark and a place I’ve never been before.
So I go in and find a seat at the bar which is almost empty and order a rum and coke from the cute Spanish waitress. While she makes my drink I head to the loo for a wash-up and when I go back to my seat my drink is ready and I sit down and read The Village Voice and sip my cocktail and relax. This is one of those perfect times when everything is just right, I feel at home here, like I belong in Manhattan at least at this moment and I enjoy every minute. I’ve got about an hour and a half to wait till I have to leave for the show, so I read the articles and soon my peace is broken by an older couple who just sat down asking the waitress about the best places to find New York pizza, They are only two seats away and no one seems to have a clue even though they live here! I guess I’ll have to step in and help these folks, all in a days work for “The Guide Boheme” I guess. I introduce myself and we begin a conversation.