Several days ago I called on a nearby pizzeria located under the El—the quintessence of gritty ambiance in the Bronx. I ordered a slice with a sausage topping and a bottle of Brisk Iced Tea, something I had done on previous occasions without a hitch. But on this day, I encountered a major snafu in earshot of the Number 1 train coming and going from its first and last stop at W242nd Street. As I plopped down at a table with my fine fare and liquid refreshment, I reached first for the latter to twist off its top. But it just wouldn't cooperate with me. I concluded my hands were a bit sweaty—and the likely fly in the ointment—so I endeavored to get the cursed thing off with the aid of a napkin and then my shirt. Good fortune didn’t shine my way.
I momentarily considered taking the bottle up to the counter and asking a member of the staff to open it for me. However, my pride got the best of me. The slice of pizza wasn’t overly hot, so I opted to consume it without my iced-tea chaser. I surmised that afterwards I could take the bottle with me—across Broadway—into Van Cortlandt Park and go the extra mile there. In some secluded spot—if required—I could make unsightly faces and embarrassing grunts to tap into that elusive iced tea.
Nevertheless, I was bound and determined to wipe that day of infamy away—with all its inherent bad memories—by retracing my steps and actions. And the sooner the better! So yesterday, I returned to the scene of the crime against my psyche and ordered a another slice of pizza with sausage and bottle of Brisk Iced Tea. I was extremely anxious because, I knew, there would be no third act in this drama. I was handed the bottle before my warming pizza came out of the oven. I opened it at the counter this go-round with the intention of asking for help if—God forbid—bad fortune befell me again.
(Photos from the personal collection of Nicholas Nigro)