I've always been blessed with that rarest of New York talents; I have good Cab Karma. That is, in a downpour, after the theater, or even just as another Knick game ends in a loss at Madison Square Garden, that most squalid of New York cab-finding spots, I can get a cab.
Most of my positive Cab Karma can be attributed to three things. One, after a life in New York, I've learned how to get a cab. I don't wait on the sidewalk. That's for amateurs.
I wade out into the first, or even second lane of traffic to look for one. Two, I am tall. That means I can be noticed from farther away, and I can see way down an avenue to spot one. Finally, I'm a good-tipper. That's where the Karma comes in and is what separates me from the ordinary cab-hailer.
As Jews (the few who are left) around the world celebrate our new year, Rosh Ha Shanah, it's only natural to reflect on things that go-around and come-around, the cosmic quid pro quo. You know, karma.
Rosh Ha Shanah, and ten days later, Yom Kippur, are after all about karma. They're about being a good person and taking stock and reflecting on how you can improve yourself. I try to think about those things every day, about how I can achieve that apotheosis of human accomplishment and become something exalted: a mensch.
Given my Cab Karma, and not to jinx myself, but I think I must be doing something right. There are people who couldn't stop a cab if they were standing in the middle of Broadway with an over-sized Ed McMahon Publishers' Clearinghouse check. Just as I might be doing something right, we all know tons of people who are doing something wrong.
Speaking of karma, there's more.
Last Saturday afternoon, coming back from the country having played with Whiskey in the turbid sea, my wife turned to me and said, "We haven't had a pizza for a long time. Why don't we get one for lunch?"
Accordingly, I steered the Simca through the potholed-Bronx to the (free) Willis Avenue Bridge and headed to Patsy's in Harlem on 118th and First Avenue, making every light, like a pro, on Second Avenue.
One of the long-running debates in New York, it's enough to raise a temperate man to fisticuffs, is which pizza joint is the best. Various on-and-off-line publications run about a thousand articles a year listing various pizza places and proclaiming them supreme. There's always someplace out in Brooklyn somewhere, or, eeeeeek, Staten Island, that this or that cognoscenti, names the greatest.
But for nearly 90 years, since Harlem was an Italian-ghetto, Patsy's has been holding the fort in its tin-ceiling splendor. Its coal-burning oven turns out a slightly-burnt pie roughly every 90 seconds, the thick mozzarella bubbling like Vesuvius.
In any event, parking at Patsy's when you're running in to pick up a pizza is next to impossible. Cabs, cop cars, even giant red hook-and-ladders are triple, sometimes quadruple-parked across the breadth of First Avenue. The next time the city runs short of revenue, they have only to head up to Patsy's and start ticketing the miscreants. They'd accrue a fortune in minutes.
This is all to say as we head into the Ten Days of Awe (the period from Rosh to Yom) I must be doing something right. My wife and I picked up a pie at prime-time on Saturday.
We didn't park one lane over, or two, or three. In fact, I pulled into an ample space right smack in front. I mean precisely adjacent to Patsy's front door, mere inches away from the portal. This has never happened since Karl Benz invented the motorcar in 1886.
It's just possible I have Parking Karma, too. Just possible I'll have a happy 5779.
I know I'll try. Try to be decent. Try to be a mensch.
And a Happy New Year to you, too.