Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Brooklyn zoo

This weekend I was showing a couple friends around my adoptive borough, Brooklyn. Whenever I have out-of-town guests, I have a certain tour I do: around Brooklyn Heights, on the Promenade, up to Old Fulton Street, where there is a beautiful dock for the water taxis, as well as Grimaldi's Pizza (yum) and the Ice Cream Factory (double yum). This is the site where wedding photos are taken, presumably of those couples who fell in love on the quintessential Brooklyn date: pizza, ice cream, and a walk over the bridge (not suitable for the lactose intolerant). Waiting in line for ice cream, my friends and I were discussing how horribly irritating it is to run into people from our less-than-beloved undergraduate institution, when - lo and behold! - just one such person walked past us.

This was someone I have seen around a few times, but was never introduced to. I hoped he would keep walking, but unfortunately one of the people I was with knew him and called out to him. Damn, I thought, here we go. Time to play Jewish geography and the name game. Sure enough, we knew a few people in common and originally hail from the same neighborhood! Huh! How could that be? "I'm with my girlfriend over there," said the Alumnus, "come say hi after you get your ice cream. If you live in Brooklyn, you can direct us around - we need some advice about where we should go shopping." Oh, goody. The only thing worse than the frat guys from my school are the girls who love them. Anyone who would date one of these overprivileged doofuses simply can't be worth talking to, especially if she's got her boyfriend trained to request a place where she can shop.

Sure enough, the Alumnus' Girlfriend confirmed my worst suspicions. She had never been to Brooklyn before, but had heard that it was cool. I guess I should give her credit for taking the train all the way out here, but while I was busy trying to make a tick mark under the credits column, she brought up shopping again and I had to start debiting immediately.

"So where do you go shopping around here?" she asked, snapping her gum.

"Um, well, there's Montague Street," I tried.

"Yeah, I saw that. Where's the real shopping?"

"Real . . . shopping? I guess you could go to Park Slope, but you'd have to take the train there."

"You mean there's no real shopping in this neighborhood?" she asked, totally horrified.

"Well, I think people usually come out here to walk around and eat dinner, since there are a ton of great restaurants in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, and a couple in the Heights," I offered.

"So why does everyone think Brooklyn is so great if there's no shopping around?" At this, her boyfriend had the good sense to look slightly embarrassed, giving me a look that said, "I'm sorry. It's not my fault that the only girls who will date me are dumb as bricks, on top of being fattish and totally unattractive, both in terms of appearance and personality."

I just plain didn't know how to respond. What could I possibly say to that? By that time, I had totally lost interest in defending my chosen borough to her, and I just wanted her to get on a water taxi and get the hell out. Luckily, my prayers were answered and it started to rain, so they ran for the water taxi, back to Manhattan, where she can shop in peace. If this is why more people don't renounce their ties to that overcrowded, overpriced and generally overrated island, I say, you can have it!

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