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Archive for September, 2013

First Batch of Cider

There were more apple trees in my backyard than one could shake a stick at. My grandfather planted them soon after he bought a large parcel of land in Central Pennsylvania. By the time granddad died in a car crash, the trees produced abundant crop; enough to make apple pie for all of Huntingdon County, or better yet, sufficient hard cider to fulfill the quench of man who worked harder than a mule all his life. 

Grandma Taylor tended to the trees long after George died. Although the fruit was not certifiably organic, but rather, fertilized with large bags of synthetically manufactured manure, grandma’s apples were said to be better than that of the Amish, who attended to their fields less than an hour away. 

Crisp fall mornings were intoxicating inside grandma’s trailer. She used a shiny stainless steel juicer– one of the first ever produced in China, where the user was required to change paper filters after every bushel of apples or so. 

When George was still alive, the apples were pressed under an oak press that he carefully chiseled from timber fallen on his own land. The cider was stored in wooden barrels and stored in a barn free of animals, where the cold frost would not bring upon the hardness before its time. 

Grandma did not shake the trees to bring down bright red apples, but instead used a picker– a wire glove it seemed– strapped to the end of a long pole, to get them all down without causing bruises. She had no desire for there to be more hard cider around by the time I was born, so instead, she used a juicer to make what was to my tongue, the best spirit there ever was from nature. 

On days like today, there were already so many apples the ground. The deer would party silently outside of her trailer at night; getting their fill for the cold winter ahead, and destroying what grandma could sell, as to pay her taxes on all that land. 

Awoken by a dream of George and his apples, grandma silently rolled open the slits of a small, opaque window above her bed at 3 am, and shot what she saw as rodents destroying her very livelihood. 

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Miller’s Near and Far

A callus has formed upon the edge of my little toe. Walking non-stop for nine hours a day in the hot sun caused a pile of hard, dead skin cells to build upon the surface of my extra sexual appendage. Earning a living as a foot-messenger of paychecks on the streets of the Lower East Side leaves me quite poor with sore feet, but a new me has been born above the ankles —a sexy one with a boyish figure, and a charming personality that leaves even the rich, high-class business owners of Soho breathless as I trot in and out of their establishments, leaving behind a pile of cash that surely will make all of their employees smile for another week.

Not since delivering newspapers as a boy in Three Springs have I felt so proud about a job I know I do well. I use a canvas paperboy bag I used as a kid. My dad mailed it to me when I got this job. I’m still shocked he held onto it for more than 30 years. The paychecks fit into it perfectly and unlike a woman’s purse, the bundle can be used not only to knock pedestrians out of the way upon the busy sidewalks of New York, but it ads to my charm.

A customer on my route, a queen who answers the door at a third floor walk-up at 180 East Broadway, asked me about my dirty canvas bag this past Friday. “I knew it was you once I saw the bag,” he said as I stood at his door wishing the place was a real business with a Poland Spring water cooler. Holding my limp hand like a queen as I responded to him, I explained that I was once a newspaper boy, and this was the bag the “Huntingdon Daily News” gave to me, and I considered it a fashion statement with which I was using to build a “brand”, and that he and the architectural firm he was with should feel honored. He giggled and introduced me to the two cats that live in the condo-like apartment that also serves as the firm’s business headquarters.

I was off to the last stop on my route—Miller’s Near and Far—a quaint little bar/ restaurant on Rivington Street—where Sam, the owner is often hard to find and rarely has his business open before Noon. Last week, I had to leave a post it note on the door of the trendy East Village hangout, indicating that he missed the delivery of his paychecks. Sam called the 800 number and insisted that he had just missed me by five minutes.

Grace called from the warehouse and begged that I return to Miller’s, even though I was already halfway back to the warehouse. “I’ll pay you extra for it,” Grace promised.

“It’s no big deal,” I said to Grace on the phone. “That guy is a real trip. A few weeks ago, when I delivered his check, all he had to say was, ‘Oh no, time to pay those fuckers again!”

Grace giggled and thanked me. I walked an additional 20 blocks to return to Sam’s business. When I walked in the door, I noticed his bartender was there. “Oh, it’s you,” Sam shouted with joy. “Yes, it’s me and it’s time to pay those fuckers again,” I said. Sam nearly died laughing. The bartender just looked at my bag. Sam insisted I take his private cell phone number.

On Friday at 1:30 pm, I discovered Miller’s was still closed and Sam was nowhere in sight. I called his private cell phone but got only voice mail. Just like the rich and powerful, I thought, too fucking busy to take a call that may save his life!

I quickly rushed back to the warehouse despite my sore feet and the awful callus that by Friday is often quite painful. I wanted to beat old Sam to the punch. I returned the undelivered check to Grace. I was nearly halfway home on the bus when Sam called me and not the 800 number.

“Hey, it’s me, Sam. Sorry I was not open. Can you bring it back?”

“I’m off the clock for the day, but you can call the 800 number on the little note I stuck to your door, and I’m sure they will re-deliver it.”

“Oh, I’m not at Miller’s yet to get the number and that sticky note. Will you please call it in for me? Tell them to bring it after 3:30.”

“Sure,” I said, thankful at least that I did not have to head back down to Soho, and accidentally bump more rich blondes with my dirty little bag.

Next Friday, as I hand Sam the fat bundle of checks for those fuckers at ritzy Miller’s Near and Far, I will ask if he is looking for a dish washer seeking on-the-job training as a bar tender in his hot little spot in the East Village.

If he is not seeking another fucker to have to pay, he better be open before 12:30 from now on, because those little stick it notes are known to blow away on those cold Fall winds down in the East Village.

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