Last night was a hellish night.
About 50 of us stayed well-past the witching hour to pull together a presentation this morning. That wouldn't have been remarkable or even worth talking about, except that Uncle Slappy and Aunt Sylvie had flown in for a few days and I had to miss the evening with them.
When your surrogate old-man and old-lady are 88 and fly up almost exclusively to see you, well, it's a pity I had to demure.
I got home around 2:30, to a dark house, but nevertheless, was up just a few hours later, around 6, to keep a breakfast date with Uncle Slappy.
The two of us walked to an old 24-hour coffee-shop called Green Kitchen--a holdover from the decades following the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviets when my neighborhood, Yorkville, was a Hungarian-emigree enclave.
Green Kitchen is farther away from my apartment than half a dozen other such coffee-shops, but like I said, it has Hungarian owners and as such they offer really superior Danish pastries, including a poppyseed Danish that Uncle Slappy assures me is to die for.
We sat at a table near the back and drank our coffee and ate our pastries and we did what old Jewish men do and have done for all time, we moaned, we kvetched, we howled at the moon.
"Boychick," Uncle Slappy began. "Too hard you are working. For what? Working till two in the morning. You think maybe you're a street-walker."
"Ach, Uncle Slappy," I said. And it was all I needed to say because Uncle Slappy, of course, understood.
The old man pulled at a ringlet of cinnamon and nibbled at it lovingly, the way you might nibble at the lobe of a tall blonde's ear.
"You have to decide," he said wiping his face with a cloth napkin. "You have money in the bank."
"I'm lucky that way. I've saved like a character from Dickens."
"You're still healthy."
I agreed. Nothing is really bothering me save for six months of dental surgery I have looming ahead of me.
"You have to decide when enough is enough."
The waitress filled our coffee cups and handed me the bill. Her name is Doris and I've known her since I moved into the neighborhood in 1982. I gave her a twenty for a ten dollar check and told her to keep the change.
She paid me back with the following:
"Listen to the old man," she said. "Listen."