Ho Hos in SoHo (a 918 word story)

A conversation with my best friend Donna’s boyfriend Fred started the old brain to travel down memory lane.  How long ago did I make that first trip to New York to see Donna…twenty-five years, at least.

“Hello?”

“Donna, it’s Dave.”

“Dave!  What do I owe this honor to?  You win the lottery and calling to rescue me from adulthood…from having to toil away, day after day, some nights, some weekends, even a holiday or two, not that I am complaining, mind you.”

“Hi Donna, it’s POOR Dave, not your dad.  Remember when you asked why I never take you out to dinner?  Well I have decided you’ve waited long enough.  How about this Friday night?”

“You’re coming to New York!  Great and I know just the place you’re taking me!  What time?”

I mocked tears, “I knew you would be elated, but I thought it would be my presence alone that would cause the dance of joy, the excitement, the…actually I thought dinner would be secondary and only used it as an opener.”

“Don’t get all weepy on me.  Of course I’m excited you’re FINALLY coming to New York…I’m elated, excited…that better?”

“That’s much better.”

“So when will you pick me up for dinner?”

“So much for ‘Dave, Dave, Dave when are you going to stop writing and get your ass up to the Big Apple?’  Where are we going to eat?”

“It’ll be a surprise; just bring a non-maxed out credit card and a suit.”

“This isn’t a deli, I assume.”

“That’s a ROGER, 10-4 good buddy.  You’re going to enjoy the experience.  Besides, I’m worth it!  Look, let’s do this right.  Call me when you get in.  Let’s not plan anything big for Friday night…you will be here for Saturday, right?”

“You have me all day and all night if you want me.”

“Ummm, does your mom know about us…no, don’t answer or I will feel obligated to call her and say how sorry I am having corrupted little Davie.  Where you staying, so I know where to send you back in a cab should you get drunk and really think you’re spending the night with me?”

“In mid-town, I’ll let you know as soon as I make reservations.  I plan to drive back Sunday afternoon.”

It’s Friday evening and we are in a café somewhere south of Houston Street.  It’s kind of a screwy place, unless of course if you like plastic forks.  I can keep quiet about the tacky name of the establishment, but no way can I pass on the plastic orange chairs, silver seat cushions, and a waiter who failed Hair Combing 101.  The food was served on metal trays and plates that must have come from an Army surplus store.  The café should have been closed by the SoHo neighborhood association long before it opened.

Donna tosses the wrapper from her straw at me, “So, what do you think of this place?”

“So, this place?”

“Yes, this place!”  She stares at me.

“Not bad…could use some…you know…some…Donna, I know this is my first time in the City with you, but this place is serving Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks.  Really, these are Mrs. Paul’s, and their not even the crunchy ones.”

“This is my favorite place Dave,” sad eyes and all, “I thought you would like it!”  Even sadder eyes, if that was possible, “You don’t like this place…do you?”

“They have Ho Hos for desert!”  ‘She seems serious, yes serious’, “Donna, I’m really sorry, I’ll stop criticizing.”

“Good!” laughing, “Cause this place is to haute cuisine, what finger painting monkeys are to art.”  Okay the jokes on me and Donna has taught me what our friendship was going to be like.  “Had you going there, didn’t I, Davie?”

“Yes, Donna.  You need to play to a tougher audience.  Remind me to take you to a Waffle House at two thirty in the morning.”

“Been there.”

“On prom night?”

“After a wedding in my bridesmaids dress.  You?”

“After a formal at a small women’s college.  While drunk?”

“No, I was only seventeen; but, does serious face smushing to the point of falling off the stools count for extra points?”

“You weren’t drunk?”

“We were drunk on love!  You?”

“Did not keep count.”

“Drunk or smushed faces?”

“You don’t admit it, I don’t admit it!”

“Hiding something Dave?”

“Smushed passed face once in the parking lot.”

“No points, has to be inside.”

“We got caught in the head lights of a friend’s car.”

“OK, but only this time because I have more points for falling off the stool.”

“How soon did you get up off the floor?”

“When the manager started yelling at us to break contact.”

“Okay, you win.”

“You give up too easily.”

“No, I just don’t like your poker face, and the only time you ever fell off a bar stool was probably when you were four, eating breakfast at home!”

“My sister pushed me, and I was five, or six.  Want to play poker for money?”

“Not with you.”

“We did fall on the floor…I made up the part about being yelled at.  I embarrassed my friends.”

“So what?  I’m sure your friends have embarrassed you.  It’s all in the process of growing up.  The point is we finally recognized that we embarrassed ourselves.”

“You’re so damn odd.  You know that?  This morning you…forget it.”

The conversation that night did not get any more sophisticated.

Ho Hos in SoHo is a work of fiction adapted from Through a Stranger’s Eyes, copyright 2005, Steven S. Walsky, all rights reserved.)

ho Hos.1Ho Hos.2

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