I spent the afternoon on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge. Even though it has more than its fair share of ugly vinyl awnings these days, you can still see a few fine old storefronts, and a handful of tucked away remnants of earlier retail incarnations. I ate hash & eggs at Anapoli Ice Cream Parlor & Family Restaurant, where I was treated royally by a beaming waitress. She asked about my camera & told me of her fondness for photographing tombstones. Anapoli is a warm, golden place, with a lot of wooden built-ins, an old tiled floor, and some counter seats that have done good service over the years. It also has a fine clock.
Though, as is often the case with luncheonettes, many of its customers were getting on a bit, there were plenty of young people too, which was nice to see. Still, at the back, a quartet of elderly ladies held court. One of them, looking quite severe, reminded me at first of the glamorous, sweetly out-of-date mannequins you see in the windows of backwater garment & beauty stores. No, not that. Something less gentle & a little more ravaged. Perhaps that old dowager Queen Mary, frowning over the marriage ceremony of a young Elizabeth, or Miss Havisham, in the David Lean version of Great Expectations (what other version is there?), lingering among the ruins of the wedding feast. Or perhaps Quentin Crisp, bravely & jauntily dressed for life's battles: stiff-backed, with lips pursed in a frown. She had a long face, thickly powdered in the palest pink. A face of chalk. The stiff curls of a fresh perm sat high upon her head, & perched atop of them, a leopard print pill box hat. On top of that, a gauzy pink scarf, untied, floating in a casual-elegant-deranged kind of way, wafting around her cheeks. Her style of dress, and upright carriage were in stark contrast to her sensible-looking, slacks & windbreaker maids-in-waiting. From that back table throne, she was queen of the ice cream parlor, and I, all the way up front, was in her thrall.