I was sitting on a barstool in Limpy's place just the other day when my brother Pat walked in and sauntered over to where I was perched. Patrick was good at this - he had taken a three-credit course in sauntering at Architect school (the place where they train young men and women - and occasionally old men and women - to be architects). The sauntering apparently comes in handy when one is surveying a work site. Pat tells me that the most highly-paid architects will spend no less than 60% of their time on a job actively sauntering. This is active sauntering, mind you, not that nonchalant sauntering that so many architects will regularly do between the drawing table and the wet bar (more on that on another day). Truth be known, Pat stays almost completely sober while designing. It is the other 23 hours of the day that we really need to worry about.
There I was, sipping my customary Beefeater Martini garnished with a live cicada, when Pat comes in with a sandwich-eating grin on his face. Not because this is a family-friendly story, mind you – it was purely because he had just been eating a sandwich, which he proceeded to tell me about.
“Tom, I just had the most incredible experience,” he blurted when he got within earshot.
“Wuzzon, bro?” I asked, feigning the best urban-contemporary dialect that I could muster.
“Huh?” he asked, confused.
“Nevermind, I said, “what was the experience?”
“Well, I just went to that German delicatessen over on 14th. It was amazing, absolutely amazing!”
“The food, the beer, or the frauleins in pleather dirndels or whatever they call them?”
“Well, I had a real eye-opener,” he replied, “I was hungry so I went to the cold meat case and was looking around, when this beefy delicatessen worker asked me – in broken English – if I wanted anything. Strangely enough, it wasn't broken with German...he had a distinctly Finnish accent, actually.”
“Amazing,” I said, nursing my drink.
“Yeah, and as it turned out, he spoke very little English, and I only know a little bit of Finnish.”
“Fortunate for you that you know any Finnish,” I replied.
“Yeah. Well, anyway, there were all these big heaping bowls of salads and plates of sliced meats, and I was pretty damned hungry. I had just been walking around a jobsite most of the morning.”
“Sauntering, I bet,” I offered.
“Well, sure,” Pat replied, “a bit. Anyhow, I saw this one big bowl of the creamiest looking stuff, with what I could tell were bits of bacon and green onions poking out of it. It looked great, so I asked for a taste. Matti, or whatever his name was obliged me with one of those little plastic sampling spoons...you know the type of spoon?”
“Indeed I do.”
“Well it was fricking magnificent, and I asked him how one would traditionally eat the stuff. He said 'on bread' and I figured I had discovered the ambrosial sandwich spread of the Germanic gods. I bought about a half of a pint of the stuff and a split kaiser roll.”
“I like bakery items named after figures from the First World War, too,” I replied. I love Pershings.”
“That's 'persians',” Tom,” Pat corrected.
“Anyhow, I went outside and found a bench, where I made myself the most heavenly sandwich. I spread the creamy sandwich spread on with a little plastic knife like they give you at the deli. You know the type of knife?”
“Indeed I do.”
“Well,” he continued, “after I finished, I was just overwhelmed with this gastronomic delight, so I headed back to the deli.”
“Uh-oh...here it comes,” I interjected.
“Well, I go up to Frommi or whatever his name is, and ask him what they call this stuff. He looks at me, and without missing a beat, he says 'lard'.”
“Lard. I was pretty horrified.”
“Don't they have ordinances about things like that?” I asked.
“Only in SoHo, apparently.”
“How do you feel?”
“Great,” Pat answered, “I never felt better.”
“Ish,” I said, “you better have a scotch anyway...kill some of that stuff in your gullet.”
“Well, Tom, actually...I thought the stuff wasn't too bad,” he said, holding aloft a small, red 2-quart pail with a 'Krazy Adolf's Deli' sticker on it.”
“Pat,” I said, “you didn't...”
“It's good stuff, Tom...really.”
Pat's scotch showed up and I raised an eyebrow at him along with my glass. “Here's mud in your eye. And I think I'm busy for lunch the rest of this week.”