Archives – January, 2008

Back In Philly . . .

205, Damn! The scale in my mother’s upstairs bathroom shouts up at me in bland grey digits.

At first weighing the scale showed a more agreeable, albeit false, 186, but I knew it was just toying with me. The fluffy artichoke green toilet mat somehow got stuck in the lower left corner of my mom’s digital scale. It’s the only scale I ever use. First, it’s a good scale. My sister Anne bought it for Christmas or a birthday some years ago. I don’t know how you buy your mom a scale as a present, but I guess it’s a mother/daughter thing because mom loves it, though somehow I doubt a son could have gotten away with such a gift. Oh yeah, and second, I tend to trust things digital.

I had estimated 209-212. I usually err on the high side so as to stave off disappointment. Those of us in the girthy set play these games with ourselves. So after a quick shower and a pee (every ounce counts) I tried again. I tapped the scale with my foot to awaken it, waited for the display to read 0.00, and then stepped on.

“Blink-Blink 205.0” Well, several pounds less than my estimate, but I was exactly 205 at Christmas, and I was hoping to break the stalemate.

It was a bit before 5AM, so I called a cab and got dressed. Oh, did I mention I was naked for the first few paragraphs? By 5:12AM I was at the Edison Train Station, and by 5:16AM I was headed south to Philly. This was my second trip to Philly in the past five days, and since I was sans car I had more trains, trolleys and busses in my future. But for this trip I’d planned a Phil-a-riffic treat for myself! I de-trained at Suburban Station in Center City Philadelphia at exactly 7:09AM, and since time was a factor in my little scheme, I ran up the several flights of marble stairs to 16th & Arch Streets; 205 not withstanding.

Like the Philadelphia Landmark that it is, there stood Tom’s Lunch Truck, my favorite street cart on the planet, standing humbly just where I left it seven months ago. If this was an audio blog, Handel’s Messiah would be playing in the background right now. It took all the strength I had not to run up to the cart giggling like a girl scout.

Tom and his wife were friendly as ever, but to my horror they looked upon me as a total stranger. Was it my Brooklyn-Cool black leather jacket? Or had it just been too many months? Maybe in the food cart business a man only has the synaptic space for a rotating recall of current customers. But then, as soon as I ordered my Scrapple, Egg & Cheese on a Roll with Hot Sauce, the lights of recognition flashed and I was back in Philly on every level.

“Regular coffee light and sweet?” Tom’s wife asked with a grandmotherly smile.

“Where-a-da-hell-a-you-been?” Tom’s Eastern European accent inquired, suspecting that maybe I’d defected to the new halal guy around the corner.

“I moved to Brooklyn.” I parried.

“Brooklyn? They don’-a-have e-scrapple in Brooklyn.” His playful smile returning.

“I came all the way from Brooklyn for this.” I half-lied as his wife handed me my bag of wonderful scrappley goodness.

“Don’t be a stranger…” Tom shouted as I crossed 16th street heading for the EL.

Down in the subway, a strange place to catch an EL, I had just missed the train, so I had a rare several minutes completely alone to enjoy Tom’s gastronomic creation. I’d like to put into words the amazing taste of this, The King of All Breakfast Sandwiches, but mere prose would never do it justice. Poetic chops the likes of Whitman, Ginsberg or Frost, could, maybe, on a good day, possibly describe the wonder of this meal. “I don’t think I will ever see a tree as lovely as Scrapple Egg & Chee… z”

I was still bathed in the post-coital high from the above mentioned culinary orgasm as I made my way through 69th Street Station in Southwest Philly. I was struck by the familiarity of these people, my Philly bredren. All hearts pumping midnight green Eagles blood, grudgingly supporting the Giants over the hated, cheating Pats. All around me were hundreds of cheesesteak eating, Wawa shopping, blue-collar warriors setting out to do good on a crisp Tuesday morning in January. I felt at home.


Vinny (~~)

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