Another Sunday—is there any other day? I'm at another bar for breakfast, one where, if I was so inclined, I could order up a shot of Maker's Mark, and then a Drambuie, and then an Ouzo and then a Campari and then a cheap Tequila and then a Jameson Irish Whiskey, a Midori Melon or a Pistachio liqueur to bring back that year in New York, and a Malibu Coconut & Rum liqueur to bring back high school spring break. Just for color, in clear glasses, Crème de Menthe, Crème de Banana, Blue Curacao, and Crème de Noyaux. All neat, no ice, and why in the world would you want to mix anything? It all gets mixed soon enough in your stomach, anyway. If I want to bring back high school, I'll have a Crème de Cacao. Always had it around. No one drank it, except me.
It's a place, this place, The Wheel of Fortune (Holman's), that reminds me of Ohio. Just the taste of the food and the badness of the coffee. The owner, Bill Bankule, also owns a chain of funeral homes. One restaurant and bar, and a chain of cut-rate funeral homes. Five bucks for the breakfast “Special Steak.” It's good, too. We're all in denial about where this meat comes from because we just don't want to know. We're hungry!
The waitress is standing in front of me with a metal bowl of lemons, slicing them into drink-size slices. For countless drinks. I'm close enough that an invisible spray of lemon peel oil is probably floating into my hair. You could pay $100 for this treatment at a spa.
It's almost the first day of official autumn. Today or the next day or the next. It feels like, and may well be, today. It's cold, and I got out my fall jacket for the first time last night. Isn't it Rosh Hashanah or something, soon, like today? I'll look at my calendar. Just saying the word “Jewish” makes me want to eat rice pudding. The only place pretending to be a Jewish deli that I've discovered (never forget to take into account the undiscovered) is this overpriced place in the theatre district called Cats Deli—run, no doubt, bu someone with a Jewish grandmother, and whose claim to fame, and this restaurant, was a small part changing the litter box on the Broadway musical by the same name. I've sent food back at restaurants only a couple of times in my life, and the chicken rice soup at Cats was one of those times. I think you accidentally ladled this out of the mop bucket. That's okay—it's a mistake anyone can make. But the rice pudding—like a melted vanilla fast-food milkshake with barely cooked white rice mixed in—confirmed my suspicions. Maybe these people can sing, maybe they can dance, but they can't cook. I could only be thankful I didn't order the gefilte fish.
I'd like to take this dreary, gray, Sunday morning first of autumn to ask you to please indulge me in a little indulgence—every fall I can't help but to try to start this project which I call my Sunday Project. It's based on a project I had some ten years ago, where on successive Sunday mornings I would adjourn at a particular place—a family restaurant, a particular one with a name like Country Cousins or Chicken Kitchen—very down-home and backwoods and fast-food and manufactured at the same time. An awful place, but somewhere, on those particular Sunday mornings, where I found something I an't forget, and thus keep trying to relive. I can't relive it, but the point is in the trying, the search, the failure, and finally the sitting, the eating, the drinking coffee, and the writing. It should be a place I can walk to , and have a good walk to on the way. And it should be warm and it should be tasteless. Well, in the last few years I haven't really found the the place but I'll keep looking, and the important thing is that I try, and go somewhere , and write about my observations, and it's the fall—that's the important thing—it's really just an autumn ritual. And as rituals go, I have a lot of them. They're important to me, yes.