Being a native New Yorker I always detested the putz in front of me who ordered a roll with butter at the deli. It was always hard to restrain myself from yelling, “That order, never went out of style, a roll with butter. Then again, that order never had style.” My attitude is either order an egg and cheese at the deli or not, although I still got grief at the deli pre-COVID whenever I’d order an egg and cheese without specifying the inclusion of crispy, crackling, bacon or not, before I became a full time practicing Koshertarian Comedian. Deli guy asks with bemused matter of fact disgust, “That’s it, just an egg and cheese, no bacon? I snap back with, with equal matched pissed, ball busting fervor, “Yeah, egg and cheese only. Is my hangover order not manly enough for your standards, Dominick I Ain’t Fag Scholanti? And why don’t Italian Guidos get credit for being the original metrosexuals of their day? My people the Jews, didn’t keep Tanning Beds R Us in business throughout the eighties and nineties, no did we dare spike our hair, in pink polos in candy necklaces on spring break in Cancun, until Guido nation made it popular first. Eighties Guido Italians ruled the fashion scene back in the day. Even tough guy sounding Italian Jews like Andrew Dice Clay would pronounce in the eighties loud and proud in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden, “Anna Wintour, I fucked her, oh. Who cares if she looks like an albino ET in a wig and Stella McCartney shades? Oh, I can’t take no more.”
The everlasting allure of delis for New Yorkers, isn’t the random, mishmash salad bar, unless you’re a colorless, hipless, Research Analyst for JP Morgan Chase who’s never passed out on the couch without brushing her teeth first. New Yorkers native or adopted, don’t love their bodegas or delis for their normally bland, too chunky, mayo-soaked chicken cutlet on a day-old Kaiser roll either. New Yorkers love their delis and bodegas, New York lingo for 24/7 open degentrified delis in reverse, because of the revered, never taken for granted, egg and cheese order, without having to specify roll ever or sandwich. Unless you want to be a totally tubby bitch and overcompensate for not eating bacon anymore and ask the pretty chesty, Italian Deli owner, in Duchess, County, who matches your flirty gaze every time, to make your dare I say egg and cheese sandwich on a sesame loaded hero, role with 2 slices of American cheese, salt and pepper, no ketchup, but some hot sauce on top and I’m in heaven, inhaling it with ravenous delight in my car 2 seconds later, at one with this ingenious breakfast start me up creation, wanting to shave with it, if I still shaved on a regular basis, feeling it’s presence nearer, as we press cheek to cheek, Irving Berlin lives, holla, thank you very much.
Last night, I spotted a leftover brioche roll and decided to make my daughter an egg and cheese sandwich this morning to earn her respect and appreciation for the holiest of holiest NY Institutions, no not UCB or the People’s Improv Theater, but a bomb egg and cheese, which makes commuting to the city a tad more tolerable and exciting, despite Manhattan being deader these days than Kurt Cobain’s shot at still winning father of the year. Post COVID or not, not every major retail institution in Manhattan was bound to go under sooner or later such as Century 21 by Ground Zero, still can’t call it the Freedom Tower Memorial Square Park, sorry. But it would get fucking super weird fast, if all the delis and bodegas in NY started dropping like flies. New York City running out of delis and bodegas to order an egg and cheeses is like McDonald’s running out of soda or BLM running out of excuses to riot or commit more hate crimes like killing happy spewing Asian sex workers in Atlanta because white supremacy turned our cities into safe space sanctuaries for Thugs Lives Matters most, got it.
Understand, I’ve already gotten my 2 boys into the egg and cheese, yet my daughter has been less an enthralled because my versions have been too “eggy” for her taste. So, this morning, I became determined to win my daughter over with the everlasting allure of the scrumptious, cheesy, mac daddy, egg, and cheese. The Egg and Cheese is so New York, Weird Al would’ve given it a plug in the Eat It Video, if he didn’t grow up in Downy, California, where your only breakfast grub options are breakfast burritos, which don’t tumble onto your plate in an avalanche of disorganized smutz if you’re lucky. And good luck finding a deli or bodega of any kind in LA that makes an egg and cheese past last call at a hard 1 in the Land of Blue Balls Strained Dreams. Sure, I can wait 5 hours to be seated at an airy, sunny, brunch spot, around guys twice as good looking as me who never struggled to fit into a size 34 in their life, only to blow 15 bucks on an egg and cheese with freaking arugula, spicy mayo, more Italian fontina freaking cheese and extra thick cut Berkshire bacon, but I’m not a working actor in SAG or a sitcom staffed TV writer in the WGA either just yet, so that fantasy equipped with a personal trainer to help me slip into a pair of semi tight, grey jeans with a 34 waist for more killer stand up sets at Improv on Melrose isn’t happening tomorrow for me either. And our comedy clubs even open in LA these days? Imagine Dave Chappelle drop by the Comedy Store on Sunset, scan the crowd for a second and blurt out, “I’ve been selling out the Apollo since I was 19, what’s this 50 percent capacity shit? Who do you think I am, Cedric The Entertainer? Holla, thank very much.”
The Egg and Cheese is a NY Institution like 24-hour Greek diners frequented by your little Greek Landlord and pick up street ball games where the brothers call fake news fouls only against less athletic white boys when the game is on the line. In short, I’d fail as a proud New Yorker Dad for letting my daughter give up on the egg and cheese so soon. It would be worse than me letting her tune out Nasty NAS on Illmatic, his 5-star masterpiece according to the Source, the hip hop Rolling Stone, after the album starts a tad snoozier slow than you recall like the start of Spies Like Us, despite those killer rhymes being tougher than Dice, holla, thank you very much.
In the end, I fried up an American cheese omelet in a non-stick pan, always the best, plopped it between a fried-up brioche roll in butter with some semi-generous sprinklings of Frank’s Hot Sauce, the training wheels of hot sauce on top and my work was done. My daughter was sold on rock steady allure of the greasy, bustling, NY Institution classic. Egg and Cheese Merchant institutions in the forms of last standing delis and bodegas in NY City, my city, who come in all colors and sizes, will never die like the Goonies, unless they do some shitty remake with Juno playing the lead for diversity dividing sake.