Thursday night, after bar trivia, I decided that I wanted dessert, so I walked across the street to the pizzeria to get a slice. Katonah Avenue in the Bronx is part of the tavern district in my neighborhood, which straddles the Bronx/Yonkers border, so there were quite a few revelers out and about. Standing in front of the pizzeria was a slender-rangy red-haired Irish guy, who I'm going to say was exactly 21. He was a friendly fellow, who gave me a greeting as I passed by.
I entered the pizzeria and approached the counter. As I did so, a drunk, but not impaired, woman sidled up to me and slipped her arm under mine. She gave me a sidelong glance and told me that the neighborhood was terrible. I noticed the pizzaiolo rolling his eyes.
She continued, "Everybody in this neighborhood hates me. I'm the dumb c___ of the neighborhood."
I admonished her, "Don't be down on yourself. If you're not in your own corner, nobody else will be."
At this point, the young Irishman entered the pizzeria. I asked him, :"How long have you been in New York?"
He answered, "Three days! I've from Cavan, THE STICKS!"
I replied, "Welcome to New York, welcome to the Bronx."
Then I turned to the woman and said, "The whole neighborhood doesn't hate you. There's a lot of turnover in this neighborhood. He's been here only three days, wait a couple of weeks and it'll be a completely different neighborhood!"
This is particularly true of the summer, when young Irish folks, on school break, come to New York to work in construction, or the restaurant/bar industry. I'm sure my Cavan chum will find work helping one of the local immigrant carpenters or floor installers, or he'll find work as a barback.
This observation of neighborhood turnover seemed to mollify the self-deprecating lady, or at least to confuse her. It was a weird sort of pep talk, a Bronx sort of pep talk, and I hope it worked.
In the interest of full disclosure, it was also a pep talk for the neighborhood, which I love. Everybody in the neighborhood likes me.
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