Lonely Coney Island on the first day of November. The seagulls rule the school; the beach is shockingly swept; the borscht and blintzes are there for the taking. We remove what litter we find; make wishes and shyly feed them to the sea. The wind whips around us with gusto; the sun dips in and out of sight; the rides stand still like dogs awaiting unreliable masters. In Brighton Beach we find half-sour pickles, caviar, black bread, and, finally, prune chocolates, the candy forever in my grandparents’ blue dish. The Proustian madeleines of my wilderness of a childhood, writ large in a Russian’s lady hand.
Around 4pm I finished my desk work and, sufficiently pleased with the results, braided my hair, strapped on my equivalent of Harriet the Spy’s uniform—blue sneakers, blue trench coat, blue glasses, blue scarf, fur hat, scarlet lipstick, and waterproof, floor-length Meg shops pleather skirt—and gave myself 20 bucks to buy an afternoon treat. Off I waltzed into the teatime sky. Said hi to the old movie of a waterfront, said hi to my neighborhood guys, said hi to the sun as it changed its angle, said hi to each street corner as I loped on by. Finally, near the end of my big loop, I espied a very shiny, very large pair of royal blue earrings in the window of a store I’d never noticed before. Naturally, they cost 20 bucks. All in all, twas the kind of scavenger hunt of an afternoon that makes a ladygirl glad that she grew up.
Every once in a blue moon I wake up bright and early and certain that the best thing in the world to eat—nay, the only thing in the world to eat—would be a cinnamon sugar doughnut from the Lower East Side’s Doughnut Plant. This morning I whizzed over the Williamsburg Bridge while the sun was still creeping over the horizon, slid my car into a no-parking zone on Essex Street, and leapt out with my nightgown only slightly peeping out of my trench coat. The place smelled exactly how I imagine Willa Wonka’s factory would smell, and between the big grin this plastered on my face and my crazy lady flasher chic, I visibly alarmed the normally impassive Hungover Harriets working counter. Which rendered the entire venture even more of a delicious caper. One bite proved enough–doughnuts pack such a powerful speedball of fat and sugar that more would’ve sent me in Belushi’s footsteps–but, man, did I love that bite. All rise for Her Eminence, Lady Doughnut Sunday.