Champagne Shopping Binge

"The champagne shopping binge/ is over/ The check is about to arrive/ and nobody knows how much it will be/ I know I don't give a shit not now" -From "FROM A DISCARDED IMAGE" by Franz Wright

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


For all of its faults, New Haven was a wonderful place to eat. Certain food and drinks will always take me back to college - the cups at Mory's, the chicken cheesesteak at Rainbow, sushi and sake bombs at Samurai. But for me, more than anything, my culinary memory of Yale and those I loved there is represented by BAR pizza.

And not just any pizza. Mashed potatoes on a white pie. Unconventional, yes, but BAR makes their pizza in the New Haven thin-crust, brick oven style, and the combination of the crispy bread, spicy garlic, gooey cheese, and creamy potatoes was pure guilty magic. H and I would get a booth and order a bottle - or two - of wine and a large pie, reasoning that we could always take home any leftovers. Then we would spend the evening drinking, eating, and talking about lives and loves and dreams and fears and the best soy latte that you've ever had.

There were never any leftovers.

So this Sunday, when I called H frantic, needing dinner and friend, it seemed fitting that we went out for pizza. It was the eighth anniversary of my mom's death and what would have been her fifty-third birthday. H had a tough weekend with Z, and we needed to go back to that time in college, before jobs and distance and the tumultuousness of adult relationships, and a white pie seemed the best way to do it.

We went around the corner to Totonno's. No mashed potatoes, but the night was lovely and they have outside tables. The pizza was good - couldn't hold a candle to BAR or any of the New Haven greats, but by far the best in the neighborhood. Instead of wine, we opted for a pitcher of white sangria. It tasted remarkably like Boone's Farm, completing the college experience. All we needed was a tailgate.

So we spent the night chatting, enjoying the summer breeze until all of the other patrons had left and the staff began to put away the tables. We discussed H's relationship with Z, and how she is afraid that her behavior may be sabotaging the relationship. I revealed that I am becoming uncomfortably aware that I tend to fall for pathological liars who complete the novel I have written in my head, rather than actually living my life with real people with real faults. It was painful, and it was lovely, and it allowed me to go to bed that evening and have a peaceful, dreamless sleep.

It wasn't in any way a fine dining experience. The atmosphere of Second Ave left much to be desired, and in no way was it trendy, or stylish, or cutting edge. But sometimes, culinista or no, none of these things matter. Sometimes, all you need is a pie, a friend, and some old memories.

Sometimes, that's how the best new memories are made.

(To H, who knows that, no matter what happens, I will always be there with a double stuffed oreo.)


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