Friday, February 10, 2006

Sugar Smacks

A minor, yet relatively true, account of my brief time in the doughnut store where, in no particular order, I did the following:

1. Eyed up the doughnut boys. Those long-armed, sweet mouthed boys. Those dough-eyed creators of magic, sugar and swirl.

2. Whistled at cops. New York sassy style whistling - at cops. Twinkle eyed and Irish brouhaha brahs.

3. Dreamed of gentle. And recalled, wistful, my days in North Carolina by the old pipe yard and the yeller swimming hole with Bozo Jackson siree, his boys and their old rusty tractor. Smoke and stew. Rice, chicken and sweet potater yams. Yam yam.

4. Laughed at the clowns and the confetti throwers. Laughed a little too hard and drew attention to myself. Whaddaya know, whaddaya say?

5. Read paperback novels that were a rage of yellow and a little bit bendy from the old dimestore across the road. The old woman and her two lost bits.

Old Man Salvadore, the owner of the doughnut store, was the biggest homosexual I’d ever seen. The only homosexual I’d ever seen. And what has that fact got to do with the price of my doughnuts? he often asked. I had no idea. But seeing as I had a dearth of friends – and hey, who am I to judge – I decided to turn Old Man Salvadore into a very good friend indeed. Homosexual or not, we buzzed like old bosom buddies because, hey, I wasn’t choosy.

Apart from the homosexual thing there was also, let’s see, transsexuals, transvestites, gender babes, creamy dykes, plum duffs, brown bunnies, masochists, sadists, sadomasochists, draymen, sticklers, bum boys, lesbians, chalkers, verities, clog wogs, lispers, nancy boys, flashmen, bondage types, hurters, fatters, feeders, longeurs, crimson pushers, version markers, carrybags, lilliputs, fagbags, loose changers, crumb bummers, dinner mashers, snurders, bald poopers, scat merchants, pop soxers, butterfly babies, piss freaks, honest hagglers, chain gangers, clasp clowns, vandal stopes, pierced pricks, knotted twines, hurters, deepers, clawers, creepers, grabbers, sackers, stoners and bedwetters. The lot. All passing through that doughnut store day after day after day.

There was a buzzing TV in the doughnut store, just over the main counter. Old Man Salvadore was always trying to figure a way to make money from the people sitting there watching. It wasn’t enough that they paid for the doughnuts and the privilege of sitting down.

Now that I think of it, more is what we all wanted. Especially me and Fat Mick. And Red Bob. We wanted more than the deal that life had so far dealt us. There we were, day after day, flaming homosexuals and all sorts of things parading themselves as we munched and dunked and talked about our grand plans to one day get out and do the sweet watermelons instead of sitting there picking our noses, whistling at cops.

We were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, passing the Super-8 between us, swapping the digital camera. We were crisp and sunshine and cloaked from the cold in black and brown. Me in black. Which must have explained why I was grabbed by a family of Russians talking to me in Russian who soon realised I wasn’t Russian. We’re sorry, they said, we thought you were Russian! It must have been the Super-8. The bottle of vodka. The hammer and sickle.

In that doughnut hut of house I was an aspiring art historian with tattoos on my arm. A sprig of holly in my heart. From the unique vantage of stool I could see out into the street, all day long, and survey the art snap moments that only I, of all the citizens and patrons in that doughnut store, could truly appreciate. By the time I had filled my coffee with four sugars I was ready to go. To the people in the street I said: I’ve been here five minutes and I’m a) a powder blue decoration flown in from North Carolina, b) a certain cinch for NYU, c) a potential cop, d) a Jean Trudy, e) a figment of NYC.

On parade day I saw clowns and gazed at big balloons that filled the city air. On parade day I made dip from pinto beans and took out my old photographs. They said they’d come. But nobody came. I had doughnuts, too.

Oh, we were enthralled, one night, as I recall, when Old Man Salvadore and a few of his army buddies rolled into the bar I hung out in and smashed the place up. Just like that and for no good reason. High spirits, he said, high spirits is all. But not high spirited enough to stop the judge from sentencing him to three months. Three months away from the doughnut store where I, for three months, became monarch. My reign was characterised by goodness, by purity and by the art of giving stuff away. No open sign, no heating, no lights, no wages, no customers, no staff, no doughnuts.

Out of town by the reedy light and up the crooked country lane we travelled until we reached the sea. Whereupon we unloaded the mobile doughnut stand on to the beach and made a proper killing. It was greyish yellow, the sky, and you’d have thought that the sky would be blue, blue, blue. But not a bit of it. All those underweight people in their bikinis, crazy for a blast of warm sugar and solace.

Here’s something though: doughnuts are not sexy.

Doughnut girls were part of the parade. They floated beneath balloons and carried themselves over the Brooklyn Bridge. Below, just a few inches below, they could see the tops of heads. Laughing at the bald spots, they released spittle and laughed again and harder, depending on what their spittle hit. Doughnut girls were splendid in their tiny yellow skirts. Their white knee length cotton socks. Their dinky red sneakers. Their tightest of see-thru sweaters. They were a rush of blood for sure. A man called Elvis flew by on his skateboard.

The Brooklyn Bridge, floating cheerleader doughnut girls, a skateboarder called Elvis, a gang of Russians, Old Man Salvadore and me. They should have taken us out.

Old Man Salvadore’s original gypsy doughnut recipe is under lock and key at the back of the store. Out front, in his theatre of arena, he keeps his doughnut making skills on permanent working display. His staff, those sweet mouthed, long-armed boys, are as loyal to him as they are to their own sweet mothers. God made them that way.

For my money though, I much prefer the whistling at cops stuff. But when I like my doughnuts, I mostly like them hot.


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