Big Pauly, Pickle Pete and 42 distant cousins

Peter Rosengard went to America for a week


traffic jam in Times square with 7th avenue in the morning, new york city, manhattan

December 22, 2021 13:29

On arrival at JFK to see my daughter Lily the immigration hall is empty. Nobody asks to see any of the Covid forms I’ve spent a week worrying about and five minutes after landing I’m in a cab heading for Brooklyn: aka the hippest place on earth.
I’m staying at the brand new ubercool Ace Hotel on Shmoozererhorner St (OK, you try spelling it).
I’m in room 910 on the 9th floor right across the hallway from 911. Who would want to stay in NYC in room 911?
This place is so cool that they play rap music at breakfast. One night I saw a small van in the lobby selling vegan wellness sex toys.

l Lily’s working, so after breakfast I go for a walk on Livingston Street, which is full of beauty salons. I look in one window at a screen listing all their treatments to see if they do wet shaves. I’m thinking of shaving off my large pandemic beard. As the beauty services flash up, one says ‘autopsy’: ‘Have a deep cleanse full body treatment — and if you don’t survive…we’ll tell your family why!’
Thirty seconds later it comes round again. It reads ‘WAX AND GO —WITH AUTOPAY’.
Then it’s time for lunch with an old friend, Big Pauly.
“Big Pauly,” I say, “it must be what, 18 months since I was last here?”
“No man! With the lockdown it’s been nearly three years!”
“Wow! I just covitina-ed you!”
“You what?”
“I covitina-ed you, Big Pauly! I’ve invented a word, ‘covitina’, for when you think it was 18 months since you last met someone and then you realise because of Covid lockdown it was three years. It’s a verb —‘to covitina’ — a distortion of space and time caused by the pandemic!”

NYC Saturday morning:
l At Bryant Park, on the ice rink even the skaters are wearing masks.
I stop at Pickle Pete’s stall. “Hi, I’m Pickle Pete” he says. “What d’ya want?”
“What you got?”
I’d forgotten to buy Lily a present, apart from the 12 large bottles of HP sauce she asked me for. How many people do you know have had to pay an excess luggage charge for HP sauce?
I buy a large jar of pickles.

Lunch with my pal Morty.
l “Did I tell you I’ve got the Number One cardiologist in NY?” Morty says.
“Morty! I’ve never met a Jew who hasn’t got the Number One cardiologist. Or the Nunber One oncologist. When did you last meet one who tells you, ‘I’ve got the Number Five best cardiologist?”
But who do they go to for a second opinion?

NY, Wednesday
l After a wonderful week with Lily, we end with an open-top bus tour with two excitable guides screaming into my earpiece like Micky and Minnie Mouse on steroids. “We’re in CHINA TOWN everyone! On your right is the best Kosher Vegan Chinese restaurant in all NY city!”
After the best kosher vegan Chinese meal I’ve ever had in my life, I say goodbye to Lily.
I say another goodbye, to my beard, in a barbershop in little Italy.
“So which part of Italy are you from?” I asked the masked barber.

l I’ve been invited to Thanksgiving with the Rosengards of Boston; a long lost tribe whose existence was unknown to me until 15 years ago when by chance I discovered I was not the world’s only Rosengard: I had 400 relatives in the Boston area.
All the Boston Rosengards are at least six feet four. And that’s just the women. Until then, at a towering five foot eight I thought I was the tallest Rosengard who had ever lived.
Apart from being 4000 miles away, they really weren’t distant relatives. Some were as close as my 17th cousin, five times removed, my host
“Big Bruce” Rosengard. Now retired, he was America’s Number One heart transplant surgeon. If you ever need a new heart let me know, I’ ll get it for you wholesale.
He told me he’d recently gone to Boston’s Barbecue University to learn how to cook the perfect Thanksgiving turkey.
By Rosengard Thanksgiving standards it’s a very small gathering, just 42 immediate family members around the table, including Bruce’s Israeli son-in-law — a plastic surgeon married to their daughter, a dermatologist (a perfect match, if she has no success with a patient’s skin problem she can just pass them over to her husband for a facelift).
His Israeli parents were there and are the two fittest people I’ve ever met. They lived in Philadelphia. I think they’d jogged over (‘why fly when you can run?’). By the time we’d finally finished eating I was exhausted. I told them the last person in my family to do any exercise was my great Uncle Hymie in Plotsk — in 1763 he’d run for an Uber horse and carriage, had a heart attack and dropped dead. Nobody has ever done any exercise since.

Saturday night, back in London
l As I head for the airplane exit my phone comes on. The first new email says, “Your prostate is the size of a lemon.”
I call the Number One prostate man.

December 22, 2021 13:29

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