A car beeped me as I crossed Parnell Road this morning.
It was one of the owners of the cafe near where I used to work.
I smiled at him, and walked faster.
But Mick wanted a chat. He felt the most effective way to begin was to stop in the middle of the road.
That way, he could block traffic for however minutes we wished to shoot the breeze.
I admired his moxie. And I happened to agree with his thinking.
“Why do it the easy way, if doing it the hard way inconveniences a lot more people?” is my motto.
“How you doin’, Mick?”
“We miss you,” he said. “You have to visit. We have so many dumplings to sell you since you left.”
I wasn’t sure what Mick was getting at.
Did he really think I was going to schlep to Kingsland to buy three months worth of his disgusting slop?
I always liked Mick. He was soft-spoken, and friendly, and always had a smile.
They used to show his photographs on the wall.
They were all for sale, mostly pictures of ducklings tooling around the pond at the Auckland Domain.
It was nice that Mick recognized me and thought to say hello.
How many guys would bring Parnell traffic to a halt just to catch up on old times? Mick didn’t care about the drivers behind him.
“Fuck off,” he told them, “we’re talking over here.”
You don’t hear that kind of talk nearly enough in Parnell.
Mick made me feel I was back in New York again, and he was a potential john, and we hadn’t settled on the price yet, but I was willing to negotiate.
So anyone could understand why I wanted to break it gently to my good friend that there was absolutely no way I’d ever go to his cafe again.
Honesty would have been too brutal. There are at least 78 cafes between my house and Mick’s cafe.
A rat would have to masturbate in my soy latte in each and every one of those 78 cafes before there was a good reason to go back to Mick’s.
I had to find a way to let him down easier than that.
“Lots of business closed,” Mick was saying. “Nobody comes in anymore. Buy coffee. We miss you.”
“To tell you the truth, Mick, I live and work in Parnell, and I’m almost never in Kingsland.”
“I understand,” said Mick. “Can’t blame me for trying.”
We laughed and shook hands, then he put the car into drive.
“I’m late for my next appointment, asshole,” Mick said.
And he ran over my foot.