When I was younger (much), I could wander Manhattan and be what any neighborhood required, so long as I stayed south of 110th Street or north of 155th.
I was Greek ordering gyros, Russian at the Tea Room, Italian along Mulberry and Canal, although in Chinatown I was just someone who wandered a bit far from the heart of Little Italy.
I could order deli at the Stage like a local, and complain about the pastrami no matter how lean it actually was, and lift a couple of pints at Tommy Makem’s Pavilion listening to trad music late in the night.
Now I walk around man made lakes in Florida, and cook the ethnic foods so lacking here, a bit of heaven, but really, Cheesecake Factory is not now and never will be fine dining.
As a Jewish kid in a small city I suppose I had it pretty good, enough of us that I didn’t totally stand out, and it helped living a single block from the Jewish funeral home, some just didn’t want to travel all that far when the inevitable time came.
But we soon moved to the suburbs, the shtetl neighborhood was gone, and I was a Jewboy to more than a few, so the Temple felt like a safe place, setting aside all the OT stories which were wholly unblievable.
I took a fair number of lumps for killing Christ and all other imaginary sins freely attributed.
I wish I knew then that as an adoptee I was really only half Jewish, and that the other half among my distant kin were kings and saints as well as a fair number of sinners.
He would arrive as I was still struggling to convince the dog that he didn’t need to drag me around the neighborhood, that he knew the backyard well enough.
I’d lose the argument in the end, that was a given, but he’d concede me enough time to wolf down breakfast, and I’d hear the small door in the wall open and then the clatter of bottles that the milkman deposited there.
Now it’s paper cartons from the grocery, the dog and several successors are now in whatever Valhalla is set aside for canines, and I suspect I may be getting lactose intolerant, which has nothing at all to do with how I now spend my mornings, with toast and a cortado on the patio, deep into my New York Times, trying to remember my long-gone youth.