Monday, July 5, 2010

Indiscreet in Borough Park

 
Don't believe me about my mafia story from Friday, do ya?

Too goofy for your reality?

Well, here's another shorter one to either feed your skepticism or whet your imagination:

My aunt's best friends in Brooklyn moved out of their co-op building in Sunset Park to a spacious (well, spacious for Brooklyn) 2-story house in the nearby neighborhood of Borough Park.  Their sturdy, brick row house was semi-detached, which meant it shared one wall with another, similar house next door.  Our friends remodeled the house extensively, and put in a new backyard with shrubs, trees, and a brick patio.  Just the right ambiance for their many backyard barbeques!

Being a city back yard, it was about the size of a suburban living room, and although it had brick walls all around it, being so closely surrounded by 2-story homes meant privacy wasn't abundant.  Still, on those balmy summer evenings when we all got together, it was easy to forget how gritty Brooklyn can be.

There used to be a wonderful German deli nearby called Karl Ehmer's, and our friends used to buy the most succulent sausages from them!  Along with the decadent pasta their daughter-in-law would bring, and the pastries their daughter would buy from Your Baker or Jean Danet in Bay Ridge, we had some pretty delicious parties in that backyard.

Did I mention it was open-air?

And by now, you know I tend to talk too much.

Well, with all of that wonderful food and in the company of good friends, one evening early in my New York City life, I made the mistake of telling a mafia joke.

And the conversation stopped.

People stopped eating.

The lady of the house, who was sitting next to me, leaned over cautiously and whispered, "we don't talk about that outdoors."

After an awkward silence, people began eating and chatting again.  Everyone knew how naive I was, this silly suburban guy from Texas.  Before long, my faux pas was forgotten.

Except it wasn't.  As we walked home later, my aunt explained to me that in Brooklyn, such topics are never discussed when other people can hear you.  It's just not wise.  Not that any harm might come to you by being indiscreet when it came to the subject of La Cosa Nostra, but Brooklyn being Brooklyn, you never know who might misinterpret what you're talking about.

She said she should have told me before, especially since you-know-who owns the building at the end of the block.  The one with the glass climate-controlled garage housing a silver Rolls Royce.

I got the message.  I couldn't refuse.

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