Moonlit Missives: Westside
Written by Bwog Staff
Just as an idyllic landscape metamorphoses with the passing of the seasons, some of our most familiar haunts take on new character and exoticism in deepest night. For this reason among others, Bwog, specifically intrepid philosopher of the darkness Diana Clarke, never sleeps. Tonight, ponder Westside Market in all its fluorescence.
Its lights are the beacon that cuts through your drunken haze, that points you north when you stumble out of the subway. You weave around the teetering boxes of lettuce and bananas, maybe trying to convince yourself that one night without Roti Roll or Koronet will do you good, maybe about to buy an entire apple pie because it costs less than the last cocktail you ordered. And at this hour, no matter how virtuous you’re feeling, that pie is probably the best option. The only fruit left is bruised. There are no cheese samples to soothingly coat your sloshy stomach with fatty lactose, and the empty plastic bowls and useless toothpicks only taunt. The hot food trays are empty and the sandwich bar is closed; you have too much drunk pride for a prepackaged one that’s been marinating in its own juices all day—right? Why not get a cup of coffee and round off the late-night diner experience on the go? What’s too weak in the daytime has just enough caffeine to sober you up.
And you’ll need it. The deserted store echoes with the hum of neon, with a shade of queasy yellow light familiar to anybody who’s ever been the last one in the Ref Room, and the tinny whine of “Blister in the Sun” rattling along the linoleum tile reminds you that you’ll be going home to an empty room.
Look down as you approach the register; there’s only one line, and no way to hide in the anonymity of the 6 pm dinner rush. At night it’s just you and the cashier, whose shift lasts till seven in the morning and who’ll take any distraction. You and your lonely apple pie have become someone else’s pub story.
You toss your crumpled receipt in the trash and the sliding doors release you onto Broadway. “Hey, where you been?” asks the man stacking pears in the cold. “How’s ya family? How’s ya New Year? You back for good now?” You wonder why you ever studied abroad, and try not to think of what your host mother would say about the pie.
Clutching its plastic case in your quickly numbing fingers, the steam from the coffee defrosting the inside of your nose, you tell him you’ll see him tomorrow, and as the last smears of music emanating from Mel’s follow you up the street, you know it’s the truth.