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2004-10-07 - 3:00 p.m.

Salís Pizza stands just one block away from my Subway stop. Even if it didnít have, quite possibly, the best thin-crust pizza thatís ever graced these taste buds, the smell that wafts out onto the sidewalk everyday is enough to drag any human being in, so long as their olfactory senses arenít blocked my mucus or a q-tip, or that plastic army man who went into hiding while you were high on Angel Dust.

The green and white storefront is obviously a recent facelift, still shiny and taut without years of abuse at the hands of noríeasters or awning gremlins. (Theyíre a little known species that congregates under awnings, clinging to cross beams. Since theyíre extremely allergic to smoke, itís illegal to smoke under an awning in New York, even though youíre technically outside. Spotted Own be damned, save to Awning Gremlins!)

Inside, the walls are decked out in black and white photographs, most bought at a framing store somewhere on Murray Hill to give the place a European look. (The standard man on scaffolding eating lunch while looking over the New York sky line is featured, but I always found the ďAmerican walking in ParisĒ to be the real eye catcher. With her chin buried against her chest, a non-descript female walks down a street, with every pair of eyes for two blocks trained on her. Apparently she had ordered white wine with Scallops, or something.) On one wall, scratched from all sides, are slides of all the former faces of this Brooklyn eatery; expanding as they go from a tiny hut to the store that now takes up half the block.

A sucker for their simple cheese slice, I go in there enough to get a nod of recognition. Give it another month and Iíll probably get a local nickname. With five front windows running from ceiling to knee height, it makes for great people watching in my oddly populated corner of Brooklyn. I usually drag out a book, or a pen, something to elongate my few minutes wrapped in the smells of sweet dough, and the sights of Williamsburg.

How it is, exactly, that they became the local precinct for the police I donít know, but I donít think they have ever feared a robbery. Walk in and there will be at least five caps staring back at you. Anyone trying to run off with the contents of the cash register would be promptly tackled by one of New Yorkís Finest; slapped into cuffs by someone still wearing a little tomato sauce on the corners of their mouths.

Theyíre regarded with respect on both sides of the counter. The cooks behind make conversation, while the customers makes space and occasionally nod, when eye contact is made. Plodding my way in last night the boys in Blue were stationed in force. I took my place in line, and made my order. As I turned, I caught eyes with a young woman with drawn curls, caught in the center of the Municipal storm. I expected a look of slight embarrassment as she squirmed between badges, but there was nothing but confidence in her eyes. I nodded and wandered out the front door for a smoke while they cooked up my pie.

Amidst the clouds outside, I glanced through the window. It was at this moment that I noticed that girl in the seat by the window, clad in Converse, white socks, rolled jeans, a simple black long sleeve t-shirt, and body armor, holding up a simple charm necklace away from her chest.

Fondling a mechanical pencil, she made furtive glances amidst light conversation to a Latino officer sitting kitty corner to her, while his tall gaunt partner glanced up at her occasionally through locks of hair that hung like wilted leaves from his forehead.

It didnít exactly seem a complete equation to find a neo-hipster in a flak jacket being escorted around by a couple cops. One would think if she was a witness, they probably wouldnít drag her out to a pizza parlor, or advertise her presence with two inches of Kevlar. With the pencil still circling her manicured fingers, I began to imagine Lois Lane like fantasies, but she didnít have any notebook to scribble out her story.

Definitely out of her high school years, I couldnít assume she was on a Scared Straight tour of duty, especially since one of the cops seemed happy enough to toy with the idea of plying off her hip huggers, not that I saw any indication of that actually happening.

Maybe protective vests are simply flattering. I donít know if slimming is the word, but it certainly adds an edge to your look. Something to anticipate on the runways next season.

I nibbled down my slices and finished a few chapters of the book before me before packing up, but they were still there in position, chitchat traded over the disgruntled looks of the officer with draped eye brows.

Her chandelier earrings jingled as she whipped some hair behind her ear, and I took one last glance back, wondering it someone had just been visited by the youngest Detective on the force, and most certainly the only one in sneakers.

They looked out the window as I left, lighting another smoke, joining the people for watching.

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