The FlatBed family hasn't been in the neighborhood on Christmas Day before. For nearly a decade, we've been doing a strange Xmas-New Years dance between Birmingham, AL and Tallahassee, FL - usually involving a very strange but illuminating drive through rural Alabam. Stopping off at a Chick-Fil-A along the way is de rigeur, and often it's a culinary highlight of the trip - and that's saying something, cuz we get fed well everywhere we go. The Chick-Fil-A secret? Definitely the pickles. A chicken sandwich with pickles is a treat not to be missed, the pickle being a much misunderstood sandwich accessory, often mistaken for a condiment. Apparently there's a Chick-Fil-A at NYU, and many a Southern ex-pat can be seen there, often coupled, proving that chicken and pickles, known collectively as chickles, are in fact confirmed aphrodesiacs.
With two little ones at home, and my folks in town, we did the holiday with all the trimmings. We had the tree, augmented by bling from the Gem. I cued up the seasonal favorites, though the Mrs. called a moratorium on Vince Guaraldi this year. Burl Ives seemed a better bet, and it payed off handsomely.
The "snowman" himself has the most lovely tenor, and we've been playing lots of Burl around the house anyway since Little Miss Clarkson Flatbed Jr. was born, Little White Duck and all. If you're looking for a good name to name your next child, I suggest Burl if it's a boy, and Ives if it's a girl. Or the other way around. The whole name thing is so topsy-turvy anyway. I fully expect our generation to be laughed at heartily for its reliance on olde fashioned names, so why not ride the trend while the poker's hot? (metaphor lovingly botched)
Anywhere else in the country but here, if you step out on Christmas morning you're greeted by the eerie silence of commerce interuptus, traffic is nearly non-existent, and one tends to feel a bit anxious that no, if one needed to, one couldn't just go out and purchase, say, a frisbee, or a bottle of bourbon. The country basically shuts down for baby Jesus's birthday, bookended of course by the mad rush to buy last second food and gifts on the Eve, then the mad rush to make up for a day of not buying stuff on Boxing Day. But C-mas itself always stands in stark contrast to business as usual, if but for a few hours. Not so along the Flatbush Corridor, and this year I found that fact to be oddly relaxing and reassuring. Bargainland, Gem, Duane Reade, Closeout Heaven, the pawn shop, the knick-knacks and patty wax sellers...bustling like it was no thang. And best of all, in a pinch, like the one I found myself this Christmas Day, Suzie Farm was open as always, selling every manner of thing you could possibly need to support the celebration of the birth of the King of the Jews. (not my term, btw. It's in the bible. The latter part. Look it up.)
Suzie Farm doesn't get the props it deserves for a) being open 24/7 with no time off for holidays or Acts of God and b) carrying PG Tips. They've got half-gallons of organic milk, "real" Mexican and Jamaican sodas like, say, Coke made with sugar instead of high-fructose corn sweetener in those cute 12 oz bottles; some delicious crazy-ass butter from New Zealand; cookies from Italy and Sri Lanka; vats of stuff I'm too much of a weenie to try; halfway decent fruits and veggies from Hunts Point (buy local!); an eye-popping array of Chinese and Korean remedies; and even some half-decent extra-virgin olive oil, which is what I needed on this particular Noël. By day, two really pretty ladies work the registers with a frenzied precision that will surely astound you. Both have excellent posture. By night, the duties are handled by a couple of cranky-looking dudes who won't respond to even my most charismatic or quirky entreaties. There are no days off in Suzie-land, and I've noted that the Suzie-work is often done in bitter, bitter cold. Today I asked whether any of the Suzie employees owned the joint; they responded with a chortle and a most definite nuh-uh. Also, none of the workers there are related. So if you had some kind of romantic notion of Suzie as a family operated biz with a few Mexican immigrant laborers, you'd be right only about the last half of that sentence. The Mexican guys often get to play their Ranchera music outside in front, but the soundtrack of indoor Suzie is 100% soft rock. I've often caught the ladies singing along with Hall or Oates, and sometimes both, though I'm not convinced that Oates did much singing, and I suspect he was more of a songwriting force than presence on the vocal tracks. I could be wrong, or I could Wikipedia that, but I'm throwing caution to the wind and leading with my gut, which these days is necessarily how I lead anywhere I go, unless I'm crawling on all fours.
The bottom line is: I hope you had a good Christmas Day regardless of your celebratory preferences, and I think we could all agree that for the most part, it was just another day on the Avenue, the 'Bush, or as I've lately come to call it - the Flabenue.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.