Runaway blueberries are dancing under my feet like treacherous blue Skittles. The oven timer finally announces the completion of the pie baking. Donning the elbow-length silicone-coated gloves, I dive in. The heat inside the oven is oppressive, the oven mitts slightly crunchy and mostly unyielding. The pies heave and sigh, bubbling over the crimp and up through the lattice. Setting one scalding 6” pie into a parchment lined box, I must leave the lid ajar. My attempt to contain the purple juices is only moderately successful.
Sprung from the sweltering bakery on Tuesday afternoon, there is just enough time to dash home for a shower and a change of clothes. Paul McCartney and Wings would dub me a Bandana on the Run. The 4:47 is the train to catch and making that a reality hinges on several factors; avoiding the school bus traffic and securing a parking space in the downtown commuter lot. Sufficient iphone charge is also critical, allowing the purchase of a ticket using the NJ transit app.
Dodging the school bus and snagging the only available parking space in the lot appear to be good signs. However, Embark NJ insists on updating new schedules when all I’m asking for is a little recognition from My Tix. They claim not to remember me nor will they allow me to purchase a ticket. Sprinting towards the ticket vending machine, there are several travelers ahead of me. The machine is unable to print tickets although it thanks us for traveling NJ Transit and tells us to have a nice day. Vowing to avoid a penalty for buying a ticket on the train (even though it is someone else’s fault), I return to My Tix with a vengeance and a new password.
NJ Transit’s Midtown Direct is crowded and excessively air-conditioned. The challenge lies in securing a seat, preferably facing forwards. Train etiquette, or the lack thereof always surprises me. You know who you are, ladies and gentlemen. A seat on the train does not entitle you to one seat for you plus one for your laptop/tote bag/overcoat/Styrofoam container of ketchup drenched fries. I must choose between sleeping woman with tote bag and fries or conscious businessman with laptop, cellphone and attitude. While deciding, a fellow passenger swoops up from behind me and grabs the seat with Ms. Fries. I am left with Mr. Attitude. You don’t frighten me, Sir. I am carrying my own blue-stained brown paper shopping bag, steam rising from its interior. This bag is assured safe haven on my lap, never on the floor. Thirty eight minutes later, I trade commuter rail for subway and a crush of strap hangers. Maneuvering ever so slightly towards the middle of the car, I attempt to steady myself as the train lurches forward. I am a breath away from a man armed with charcoal pencil and sketch pad, quietly capturing the weary faces around him. Noticing my stare he explains, “Art student. Final assignment.”
The next stop is mine, a labyrinth of tourists and costumed Super Heroes, as creepy as the street is gridlocked. I raise my brown paper bag a bit higher and hug it closer for safe keeping. At the crosswalk is a man hawking free hip-hop CDs and across the street, a caricaturist. There is a family in front of me, walking six abreast unless you count the baby stroller; that makes seven. I want to clobber them.
A Federal Express man appears wheeling a hand truck of parcels, weaving in front of the family. I seize this opportunity to walk directly next to Mr. Fed Ex who with his handtruck, cuts a swath through the meandering tourist crowd. My brown paper bag is bumped and jostled, and I raise it higher, away from the madness, until I reach the theatre.
After the final curtain falls, I pay a backstage visit to George, Blondilocks’ uber talented friend. I will hand him the brown paper bag, a small gift acknowledging his Broadway debut. Bravo, George. Here’s a little something from my Blue Period. Love, Pie-casso.