14 October 2004 ~ How to tell a New Yorker...

"Okay," I said to Neil. "My challenge now is to out-Italian Dave, Your Friendly Neighborhood Bakery Boy from [nearby grocery store]."

Last night, you see, when I went to the store to buy a loaf of garlic bread, I ran into Dave, who happened to have just prepared a basket of garlic bread loaves. Dave assured me that they were fresh and delicious. And Dave's a nice kid, so I trusted his judgment and got two loaves instead of just one.

...Only to find out that the so-called garlic bread was basically a buttered French baguette with a tiny bit of garlic. Or maybe it had just been sitting too near the garlic in the refrigerator.

I am not actually a person of Italian heritage, but dammit, I'm a New Yorker, which damn near makes me Italian. Plus, I'm pretty sure my mom is secretly a mafiosa, even though she's (obviously) not Italian either. And Italians -- and pseudo-Italians -- know from garlic bread. As in, we know it's supposed to have a shitload of garlic on it. Most foods, in fact, should have a shitload of garlic on them.

Neil said: "Don't forget to put a LOT of garlic on it!"

"Whadda you mean, 'don't forget a lot of garlic'?!" I yelped. "Ya talkin' to me like I was born in Tacoma or something. You think I was born in Tacoma? I know from garlic bread."

"I know, you're a New Yorker." Neil, when talking about things like garlic bread, gets this accent like he's more used to sitting on subways than on a couch. "I didn't say nothin' about Tacoma."

"Yeah, I think YOU'RE from Tacoma."

"Whatta ya sayin' now, I'm not a New Yorker?"

Just to see what would happen, I replied: "Yeah! What makes you such a New Yorker?"

"Spent most of my life there!" he countered.

"Yeah, but YOU weren't born there," I said. "I know."

See, now I was treading uneasy ground. Neil was born in Germany and didn't end up in New York for a year or two, if I remember correctly. I mean, it's not like it's THAT big of a deal. Neil's plenty New Yorker. He could have been born in Timbuktu, and if he managed to make his way to New York at an early enough stage in his development to understand the concept of garlic bread (and to comprehend that Christopher Walken doesn't actually have an accent), then he's a New Yorker, no further questions. Mostly, I was just picking on him to see what he'd do.

"Oh, I'm not a New Yorker, enh?" he asked. "Cause I wasn't born there? Now you're gonna get it!"

I almost conceded: "Yeah, I know. Feel free to come in here and smush the lasagna on my head..."

"What? And waste perfectly good lasagna?"

"There. NOW I know you're a New Yorker."

* * * * * * * * * * *

The lasagna was pretty good. Somehow, lasagna is always pretty good when you reheat it the next day.

The garlic bread could have used a tiny bit more garlic. Shit, almost EVERYTHING could use more garlic.

If you disagree with this, you're probably from Tacoma or something.