Late on Saturday night, Sunday morning really, I’m forging back home in the cold — remember, we don’t own those wheelie things here in the City, those whaddayacallum, “cars” — from the far wastes of Bay Ridge. Bay Ridge, best known to America from its ensemble role in Saturday Night Fever, is much the same as it was then, plus the occasional tattoo and minus a reef or two of polyester. The only thing we really need to know about Bay Ridge at the moment, though, is that it is Not Near My House.
This is almost always true, no matter where you may be. Bay Ridge is nothing if not consistent; it is Bay Ridge to all people.
We’re down here in the first place following the befezzed Fisherman’s Xylophonic Orchestra for a burlesque revue on the frontier. This may or may not be sensible. If you delve enough in entertaining nights, though, eventually the Usual Spots blur a bit. You don’t appreciate the come-as-you-are downtown charm so much, and all the endless possibilities shrink to a single repetitive point: as if you’re trapped in a huge multiplex and they won’t let you leave until you’ve seen each movie at least once, every single one. And you have to see Alexander twice. No naps.
Of course once I’m here I immediately want to be back someplace real, but that’s part of the tonic. Girls in Bay Ridge still have big hair — I thought there was a law about that. The bus takes the bulk of an hour to reach the delta of Fifth Avenue, and once we’re stationed in the comfy chairs there’s a long wait while … well, let’s just say that light shows are best left to professionals. Eventually The Fisherman posts himself behind his tiki-flavor keys, the patter begins, the music flows; robes are dropped, fans are flapped, glitter is revelled, skin is spangled, undergarments are unstrung and flung; pasties whirl, and the good burlesque business eases on down the floorboards with familiar tease.
Bay Ridge follows the rule of mountains: it’s easier to get there than it is to get down. Without getting too deep into it, let’s just mention that the late bus was early and the next one was a cold hour down the pike; the R train pooped out at 36th Street, tossing us to the wolfish N and D; switching for the 4 at Atlantic/Pacific is never quite as trim as it sounds; and by the time I’m back in the hood, it’s plenty cold and I’m not getting any younger. I stop for a restorative slice at the 24-hour at-your-own-risk pizza place on Court Street. Cheapest pizza around: buck a slice, and you get what you pay for.
Linus: I’ll take a slice please.
Late Night Pizza Guy: OK. Slice. OK. Two.
Late Night Pizza Guy: Two slice, OK?
Linus: No, just one, thanks.
Late Night Pizza Guy: Eh? No. Two slice OK. Two, OK?
Linus: I just want one.
Late Night Pizza Guy: Two slice, I make for you.
Linus: All right, fine, two.
Late Night Pizza Guy: OK! Two slice. Which free you want?
Late Night Pizza Guy: Two slice, OK. You get free one slice.
Late Night Pizza Guy: You free, one slice two slice.
Linus: No, I … uh, pepperoni.