Monday, December 17, 2012

Man O Manischewitz

Fort Greene is a friendly neighborhood. People say hello to each other. I smile a greeting, glad to be here. It is a 'we' world. Across the street an older Trinidadian woman collects beer cans and bottles for the deposit money. I give Jinny all my empties, at least ten a week. At five cents a can my annual contribution adds up to $25. This rainy afternoon I exited from the Fort Greene Observatory, I spotted Ginny struggling to drag her cart loaded with plastic soda bottles onto the sidewalk. Her daily effort finances her yearly visit to the casino. She loves the slots. "Wait there," I shouted and walked over to help maneuver her load out of the street. "Thank you, sweetie." She smiled and scurried back to her basement apartment, "I have something for you. Watch my things." "Sure." I estimated that she had collected over two hundred bottles this morning or $10 for her battle with the one-armed bandits of Aqueduct. Thirty seconds later she emerged from her flat with a plastic bag. "This is for you." Ginny handed me a bottle. It was Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine, 100% kosher for Passover, until it contains a kitniyot grain such as corn syrup. "Thank you." I took the bottle with sublime gratitude. No one had given me a Christmas gift. "I'll drink a toast to you with my landlord AP." "He is such a good man. And those children are lovely." "Yes, they are." I pointed to her cart. "You need any help with that?" "No, I'm going down to Pathway to redeem the money. I think I might go to the casino on New Year's Day." "Then I wish you luck." I returned to AP's brownstone and showed my friend the bottle. "Man O Manischewitz." AP made a face. He was used to better wines. "I can't remember the last time I drank it. It must have been back in the Zapple and Boone's Farm years." I examined the bottle for percentage of alcohol. "It says 11%. Care for a glass?" "Not right now." We had eaten pasta with clams for lunch, which calls for white wine and certainly not glatt kosher wine. "Later?" I hated drinking alone. "Much later." I had no reason to wait and cracked open the bottle in my top-floor apartment. The bouquet was pure sweetness. I poured a glass and brought it to my lips. A simple sip renditioned me back to 1966. Man O Manischewitz. Some things in life never change. "Here's to you, Ginny."

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