Lately it hasn’t felt very spring-like. Not on the street where I live anyway, on Manhattan Ave, in Brooklyn, a stone’s throw from Greenpoint Ave. and the Greenpoint G train stop. There’s no stones on the street to prove my point so you have to take it as an article of faith. The weather has been raw, and windy, not nasty, not exactly winter coat weather but not exactly spring jacket weather either. Sort of in between, so no matter how you dress you are wrong. 

I only live on this street during the week, Monday through Friday. Every Friday evening I leave my job at Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and slog home to Western Massachusetts through heavy traffic. My feet don’t personally do the slogging, since I’m driving a rented minivan, but the traffic is always heavy and I’m always tired and I never seem to make it home before 10:30 or 11:00. 

So I’m a Brooklyn part timer. I’m not a real resident. That G train I was telling you about, it rumbles right beneath my third floor walk up. I can actually hear and feel the vibrations when it passes underground. It doesn’t come through as often as before the pandemic. I hate writing about the pandemic but I just did. Damn it. I wanted to stick to the topic of spring, or the lack thereof, and how it suckered me into a hasty meal of kielbasa and pierogies. See, I got home from work late last night, around 8:40, and even though I ate an energy bar at work which I thought would be my dinner, when I stepped outside my minivan it was so raw and windy that I immediately craved comfort food. I wanted something hot and savory. What I really wanted and God knows why I wanted it because I always regret it, but I wanted a piece of kielbasa. And, conveniently, right across the street in this very Polish neighborhood there’s a Polish restaurant. The cook has this beleaguered, kind of sad tired look that makes me think she’s a refugee from Eastern Europe from before the wall fell.  And I think she learned to cook in some Soviet sponsored cooking academy because frankly every meal I’ve had there is terrible. The place is always empty. When I stepped inside off the windy street there was just one man in his late sixties sitting in the corner. The cook peered out of the kitchen with her sad eyes, and said something in Polish to someone who was as we say in the movie business, off-screen. Then a tall waiter dressed in black appeared. He was a young man maybe in his early thirties, with what my friend Donald would call a fat ass. I wasn’t judging his ass but I know damn well my friend Donald would if he was in the restaurant with me because Donald always does that. The waiter wasn’t fat. Just his ass was. A little. Really I shouldn’t have brought it up but the cat’s out of the bag now, and I’m sorry. Am I ashamed of myself? Yes, I am. The waiter was tall and had short blond hair and came over to me. He was very hesitant. I asked if they were still open and he made a rocking motion with his hand. 

“For fifteen minutes.” 

“Will you still serve me?”

“Oh, yes.”

“I just want kielbasa.”

“What kind of kielbasa?”

(There’s kinds of kielbasa?)

He hands me a menu. Oh, I see. There are all these combo platters, kielbasa with beef goulash and stuffed cabbage, kielbasa with pierogies and pickled beets, and other combinations. The menu confuses me. I feel the pressure of the ticking clock. Ignoring my gluten allergy, I blurt out,

“I’ll have the pierogies.”

“What kind of pierogies.”

Oh for heaven’s sakes. I just want some goddamn hot food. But I scrutinize the pierogie choices:

“Cheese and potato”

“Boiled or fried?”

Boiled or fried? I really can’t make up my mind. Why the hell is this so difficult? And why am I ordering pierogies? My wife will kill me. I promised her I’d stay away from gluten. Now I’m gorging myself on it. And all I wanted was a piece of kielbase. 

“Fried pierogies. Oh — and a side order of kielbase.” 

“Of course.”

I sit down — yes, this entire transaction was conducted standing up next to my table — and my food is brought out within five minutes. There’s maybe a dozen pierogies on the plate and a piece of kielbasa. The pierogies are to tell the truth not bad but let’s face it it’s like eating mashed potatoes in a fried dumpling. It’s hard to get excited about a filling of mashed potatoes. But it is hot food. And the kielbasa is — well, it is kielbasa. Kielbasa is kind of a watery sausage, and I don’t know what’s in it and I don’t want to know, I don’t think. Whenever I order it I’m always disappointed. It tastes bland, for one thing. It’s kind of like the baloney of the sausage world. But it was what I asked for. I also asked for a glass of their house cabernet which wouldn’t win any gold stars from Robert Parker but helped wash down my meal. 

I’ve never bothered to ask about desert there. Two doors down from the Polish restaurant is an altogether different culinary experience, an Italian pizza place, that has the best gluten free crust of any pizza joint I’ve ever been to. And the reason I didn’t eat there was because I ate there the night before, and I didn’t want to seem like a loser walking in and ordering pizza two nights in a row. And all they really have is pizza. The night I was there I sat at a high top table near the front of the restaurant, and there was this woman sitting at their small counter who never stopped talking. She was talking to anyone who was there behind the counter at any given moment, it didn’t matter who. I couldn’t really follow her conversation but every once in awhile she would make loud Ooohing sounds and hold out her cell phone to show a photo or something on her Instagram to whoever was behind the counter. I have to give it to bartenders and anyone in the restaurant world who is captive to their audience because I would just vomit. Maybe I’m not a people person. No, wait, I am being too hard on myself. I am a people person. I just have limited patience. No, that’s not right either, because I often get trapped in conversations with people who turn out to be genuinely nuts. Really. I once asked my friend Peter why crazy people always flock to me and he said, “because you talk to them.”

I guess it isn’t very PC, isn’t very woke, to use the word crazy, which is what happens  when a writer gets lazy or frankly just doesn’t care. I could say mentally ill, but some of these people aren’t mentally ill, they’re just freakin’ crazy.  Speaking of crazy, my upstairs neighbors are driving me mad with their music. They don’t start playing music until after 11:00 at night, and then they play it very loud and they seem to have a preference for salsa music, and also for flinging what sounds like dumbells around the room. Honestly I don’t what the hell they are dropping on the floor but I wish they would knock it the hell off. They party until 2:00, 2:30 am and then call it quits. Luckily I am able to usually sleep through it. But that’s because it’s still spring, or not spring, and my window is closed. When summer comes it will be a whole other story.