On our last day in New York, I freed my wife to go shopping alone while I stayed in the hotel and read the Times. I consider reading the local papers the best part of any vacation.
We agreed to meet at 1 o’clock at Lindy’s, a deli in the RCA building, for lunch. Though they specialize in everything I shouldn’t eat, I would no more think of going to New York without eating in a deli than I would think of going to London without having a beer in a pub.
She was exactly on time. She had walked all the way from 49th Street up 5th Avenue to Central Park. She had seen the new Trump Tower, among other improbable novelties, and was in culture shock. She had walked all the way back on Madison and had bought only one dress for herself and two shirts for our sons.
We overindulged on beer and corned beef sandwiches and were entertained by the corny old jokes printed on the menu and on the walls at Lindy’s. Typical joke: Customer: “What’s this fly doing in my soup?” Lindy’s waiter: “The backstroke.”
Culture is where you find it.
My wife was not finished. She set out again on foot while I went back to the hotel to rest up for the evening. Several limousines were lined up beside the hotel on 50th Street, along with several black sedans with police lights. Asian men in business suits were sitting in some of the cars or standing about. They looked serious and efficient. I read in The Times the next morning that Roh Tae Woo, the president of South Korea, had addressed the United Nations that day and was staying at the Waldorf.
I didn’t know it, but the next night Michael Dukakis and George Bush were going to be at the hotel for the annual Al Smith dinner. Too bad we couldn’t have stayed another day and experienced the proximity of such luminaries.
The theater district had been so crowded on the previous evening that we had almost found no place to eat, and had been lucky to find a table in a Japanese restaurant.
For this evening we had the concierge make reservations for us at an Italian restaurant near the Brooks Atkinson Theater. We had tickets for stand-up comedian Jackie Mason.
For the first time, except to and from the airport, we took a cab. The restaurant was one of several on 46th Street, near Broadway. Like so many small New York restaurants, it was intimate and excellent, but because of that deli lunch we couldn’t finish our dishes.
We were intrigued by an absolutely exquisite Asian woman who came in and ate alone. It is sexist, I suppose, to wonder why an attractive woman is dining alone, but I made up several scenarios to account for what seemed to me to be a waste of fascinating company. I doubt that any of them was true.
Jackie Mason turned out to be a Catskills-type comic who parodied our political candidates hilariously, then came back for a second hour of Jewish-Gentile jokes. Many of the men in the audience were wearing yarmulkes. They laughed the hardest. Mason is a phenomenon. Lofted by a good review in the Times, his one-man show has been running two years.
After the show we once more found the street full of limousines, with not an empty taxicab in sight. Drivers were hustling riders on the sidewalk. We decided once again to walk back to the hotel.
Despite the hour, the game was still on. That was the night Tim Belcher went 6 innings for the Dodgers, and then Jay Howell came in with a 4-3 lead in the ninth and closed it out to give the Dodgers a Series lead of 3-1.
We were going home the next day, and with luck I could see the Dodgers wrap it up. Somehow, being isolated among New Yorkers who were still stunned by the Mets’ loss of the pennant, I could hardly believe what the Dodgers were doing. I almost believed the local sportswriters when they wrote that it was all a Hollywood concoction, and that before it was over they would tear down the sets and reality would be restored.
Well, we would see.