Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

The rest of us tonight

Posted by Ron Coleman on December 24, 2007

I was driving home from the City, choking as it was with cheap-dollar tourists from around the globe (I’d never seen Midtown so jammed on Christmas Eve), through the empty streets of Polish- Catholic Clifton, New Jersey. Somewhat emotionally distraught (not because of the tourists!) I concluded that ice cream would be a fine spiritual salve, so I pulled into the local Carvel, whose bright fluorescent light, I was surprised to see, was still burning bright.

I was only surprised because I figured that the help would not want to work tonight, just as this reason was enough to close the Latino-staffed kosher pizza shop I’d walked to on the way to the bus terminal in Manhattan (yeah, that distraught!). But in fact the Chinese proprietor himself was behind the counter, scooping out the ice cream — and who were his customers?

Well, there was me, from the Jewish part of town, of course, with my black velvet yarmulke and white shirt and dark suit. And four others, all together — four young Arabs, another feature of our part of New Jersey, a young man and three women. Two of the girls (they could not have been much older than teenagers) were wearing hijabs on top of modern-looking high school clothes; one in jeans and one in Clifton High Mustangs sweatpants. Another one looked completely Americanized, no hijab, but because of her lack of covering her semitic looks and ebony hair were all the more obvious. And there was the brother, a tall curly-haired boy ordering a “classic sundae” with vanilla ice cream and hot caramel. The Chinese Carvel franchisee served the four of them in turn while someone else emerged from the back to help me with my order.

“Here we are!” I said. “The only customers for ice cream in Clifton!” They all smiled at me and chuckled. One of the girls, the uncovered one, said, “Of course, what else are we going to do tonight? We don’t celebrate Christmas!” I assured them I understood, and waited for my cup, and we all smiled and wished each other an American good night as they climbed into a waiting SUV and I stepped out onto the abandoned street aglow from the light of green and red colored lights hung from the lampposts.

Cross-posted on Dean’s World.

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One Response to “The rest of us tonight”

  1. Edward said

    Hey hey my my–
    Ishmael and Isaac are still at it.

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