The last number 1 stop. Broadway under the Van Cortlandt station is a scrubby stretch. A little distance away, idle trains slumber, gleaming in the noon sun.
We ate lunch in the Short Stop coffee shop, which was worth visiting for the name alone. A couple of ballpark posters up by the counter kept the connection. You couldn't call this place enticing: two TVs showed a crappy Adam Sandler movie, the bathrooms were worn & the vinyl upholstered booths a sickly shade of mauve. And yet. The food is cheap (and A graded, if you care about that sort of thing). The service is friendly. And the company you keep is exactly what you wish for and gets harder and harder to find deeper in the heart of the city. Behind you, a couple of white parents and their leggy pre-teens, quietly gossiping about the social niceties of middle school. Ahead, a crowd of giddy post-church mothers and children, laughing and joking in a mixture of Spanish & English. The smallest girls wore frothy, tiered dresses and party shoes. And scattered about the room several men dining alone. Regulars, who knew the wait staff well. Men who could have walked right out of Rogosin's Bowery, in clothing that had worn itself down into unknown shades of gray, and with faces wild and weathered. And a kind of decorum reigned. All in our own worlds, yet all together, and the waiter attentive to each customer. Without the mix, the tolerance, the mutual respect, the cafes, bars & public spaces where we linger together, even briefly, what's the point of being here at all?