Life & Culture

Peter Rosengard's week: The spaghetti thief and the belly-dancing obstetrician

Peter's in America for a wedding


Aerial panorama of Lower Manhattan skyline at sunset viewed from above Greenwich street in Tribeca neighborhood.

Thursday 7.30 am Brooklyn, NYC
l At Junior’s, the “Home of Cheesecake in Brooklyn since 1950” (‘So rich and creamy it made tough men swoon’, New York Times) I’m greeted by the wonderful Taina.
“Hi Mr Rosengard… OK lovey…OK baby…OK sweetheart …I got you!”
Taina brings my usual double espresso and a huge slice of raspberry cheesecake.
“Taina, what’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you here?”
“I’ll tell you! I was once serving this old lady. She’s in a wheelchair, and she orders lobster, steak, spaghetti…the works! And four pina coladas with alcohol.
“So, later on I’m serving another customer and I turn round and she’s gone! Vanished! I run out the door and she’s already half way up the block, going like crazy! I run after her and catch her up. I turn the wheelchair round and wheel her right back!”
“Amazing. What did she say?”
“She asks me to call her sister. ‘She does it all the time,’ her sister tells me. ‘Don’t let her in again.’”

Friday 10.30 am Newark Airport
l My daughter Lily and I are taking a 60 minute flight to Syracuse in Upstate NY for a family wedding at Finger Lakes.
“Dad, everyone else is driving as it’s only a six hour drive.”
“Two reasons why we’re not. First, my dad, Grandpa Jack, fell asleep at the wheel driving from London to Glasgow in July 1937 and ended up in hospital for a month.
“Second, on my first trip to America, on Highway One driving from LA to San Francisco, I fell asleep at 55 mph at the wheel of an Oldsmobile.The siren of a Highway Patrol officer on his Harley Davidson saved my life.”
“What did he say?”
“He wasn’t happy. He was going to arrest me. But after five minutes of ‘I’m very sorry, sir!My fault entirely!I’m an English tourist!I love America!We were in the war together, remember?’, he gave up and let me go. Clearly it’s hereditary. I can’t risk driving.”

Friday 7.30pm The Inns of Aurora, Cayuga Lake
l The groom’s family host a dinner in a barn by the lake.
In the middle of the Best Man’s speech someone shouts, “No! You’re not his best friend. I’m his best friend.”
“No! You’re not. I’m his best friend,’ someone else shouts.
“He’s a pretty popular guy,” I say to Lily.

Saturday night 7 pm
The dinner and dance
l A belly dancer takes to the dance floor. The bride’s family are originally from Baghdad. Her father joins in and starts dancing crazily, throwing hundreds of dollar bills up into the air.
“Is he really an obstetrician?” someone asks.

Sunday 1 am
l I’m just about to fall asleep when I get a text from Delta Airlines “Your flight from Ithaca (clearly the place to live in America if you have a lisp) to La Gardia at 12 noon today is cancelled.”

Sunday 7 am In a cab to Syracuse Airport
l “Kevin, how long have you been driving a cab?”
“I was a bus driver for 20 years, then one day they said my neck was half an inch too thick.”
“Too thick for what? To drive a bus?”
“Yes. They wanted me to do a sleep test.”
“A what?”
“A sleep test for apnoea.”
“Did you?”
“I told them to take an effing jump!”
At Syracuse we’re the last to board. The attendant says, “You can’t take your carry on bags, sir. We’ll take them and you can collect them as you exit the plane when we land.”

La Gardia, NYC.
l Lily’s bag doesn’t come off the plane. “Someone must have taken it by mistake,” I say.
Lily runs one way, I run the other, both looking for someone wheeling a grey carry on bag. That narrows it down to about 10,000 passengers.
Thirty minutes later, exhausted, I go back to the arrival gate. “Someone took my daughter’s bag off the flight from Syracuse,” I say to the young Delta guy at the desk. He turns and points behind him to a grey carry on bag.
I call Lily. “I’ve found it! They screwed up!”
“No, sir, we didn’t screw up,” the young Delta guy says.
“Of course not. My fault entirely. I’m an English tourist. I love America! We were in the war together, remember?”

Sunday 11pm NYC
l In an Uber to JFK to catch my flight back to London.
“Yousef, what do you love about New York?” I ask the driver.
“New York sexy.”
“New York is sexy?”
“Yes. New York sexy,” he says.
Lily jumps in: “Dad! He’s saying he’s been in New York for SIX YEARS!”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive