On Thursday January 31 I went to the Brooklyn Museum. As I was surrendering my coat, one coat-checker was telling another: "I’ve been eating these MREs! They’re pretty good." [MRE means "meal, ready-to-eat." They are used in the Armed Forces.]
"Are you in the military?" I asked the woman.
"No," she replied. "I live in Breezy Point. We just moved back three days ago."
Breezy Point is a neighborhood in Queens that was completely decimated by Hurricane Sandy, on October 29.
"Do you have power?" I asked.
"We do. Not everyone does."
"Who gave you the MREs?"
"The relief workers."
"What flavors are there?"
"There’s a lot of them. I like the ravioli."
"But you have to heat them up?"
"No, there’s a packet that you put inside the pot, and you add water, and it heats up. Then you put the packet with the food in it, next to it. And the good thing is it’s 3000 calories! One meal is enough food for the whole day!"
I thanked her, and went off to look at the art. I spent a long time staring at Sol LeWitt’s "Hanging Structure" (built in 1993). It’s a series of white wooden cubes attached to the ceiling. It looks like a waterfall that never quite reaches the ground. When you look at it closely, the little shadows on it are dizzying.
Just before I left, I went to the bathroom. A happy guy of about 42 was mopping the floors. "How are you doing?" he asked.
"I’m fine!" I replied. "How are you?"
"I’m very good!"
"Are you from Russia?"
He laughed. "No, I’m from Sicily!"
"Oh," I said. "My daughter went to Catania last year, and really loved it."
"Yes, Catania! It’s full of the Mafia, like all of Sicily."
"I thought there’s less Mafia, now."
"No, it’s the same. But let me ask you a question. Do you know why Jewish women like circumcised penises?"
"Because they’re 10% off!"
I laughed. "That’s a good joke!"
"Yes, I want to become a comedian."
"Do you have a website?"
"Not yet. Very soon."
I read his nametag: Aldo Albano. Maybe if you look, his website will be up by now.