One of the enduring images I have of my grandfather on my father’s side is of him leaning against the window of Zabar’s. It was a Saturday afternoon in the early 1980s, a time of day when nobody in their right mind would venture inside. Grandpa was a pragmatic man. He waited outside while my grandmother bought Nova and was throwing bolos inside.
I’ve always tried to be practical like him but sometimes I’ll throw caution to the wind. Like last night, when I thought it’d be fine to stop by Fairway on the way back uptown to the Bronx. Late afternoon, Sunday. Brilliant. In no time, I was sweating like a madman, navigating around the crowded store. I couldn’t have just gone to the market a few blocks north, owned by Fairway no less. No, I had to be clever.
As I came to the end of my shopping list, I was standing in the organic department. I realized that I had to go back downstairs for English muffins. I wanted to throw a punch or at least a punchline. Some gallows humor was called for. I looked up and there was Tina Fey and her family, a daughter with big, beautiful eyes, and her husband, a short, nice-looking guy. Who else would appreciate a good Fairway joke but Tina Fey? But I was dripping with sweat and had bad breath. And I didn’t have anything funny to say. If I tried to say anything to her I’d come across even dorkier than Liz Lemon. I didn’t want to blow up her spot but even more than that, I just wanted to get my English muffins and vamoose.
Anyhow, it was a New York moment.