Of Matzo and Mitzvahs

One of the best things about living in New York is the availability of everything. It also happens to be one of the worst things. Best, because, well, who doesn’t love being able to pick up the phone, and within half an hour, have Turkish food delivered to her doorstep? (Yes, of all the fantastic things this city has to offer, restaurant delivery is the one that thrills me to no end.) And worst because, well, you always feel compelled to do something just because there’s so much of everything to do. And if you don’t take advantage of New York’s many offerings, you may as well be sitting at home making fanciful wreaths in suburban Connecticut. Which is fine if you’re … well, no. It’s not fine for anyone.
So it was with this need to do more stuff, and to get myself out of a bit of a “rut”, that I ordered a subscription to Time Out New York and started poring over the listings in search of activities. I told myself I would start small and participate in one listing per magazine. Last week’s issue had me drooling over a Robert Crumb appearance, only to be told, when I called for tickets, that the event was sold out. It also had me tittering at a listing for “The Ruthie & Gussie’s/Empire Kosher Matzo Ball-Eating Championship at the Friar’s Club”*. (Be sure not to miss the page of Eaters.) This, I had to see. This, if nothing else, would nudge me from my rut. If lotsta Crumb couldn’t do it, then matzo bums could.
So today was the day. I couldn’t wait to see some of the nation’s biggest gluttons get their gut on. I’d never been to an eating contest before — unless, of course, you count the after-funeral food shindig at my parents’s house after my grandmother’s funeral, where a certain cousin couldn’t wait until my sister removed the plastic wrap from the platter to jam his hammy hands underneath to swipe a slice of cheese — so I was curious to see what all the excitement was about. (Even though the food at this event would be matzo balls, I still expected to see some fat guy in overalls with his hands tied behind his back, gluey cherry pie filling smeared on his face.)
I decided to travel via my favorite bus line ever, the M5, which, if you’ve been reading my site dutifully like you should be, was included in last week’s tale of inappropriate pantlessness. However, since I was running a bit ahead of schedule, I decided to start my journey with a trek down the route via Riverside Park, to try out a pair of new shoes (mine are “sage”, which appears quite yellow online but which, in real life, is an adorable color not unlike that which would result if a blade of grass and a lime were to get together, decide they really dug each other, and subsequently reproduce [after getting married, of course, following a suitable engagement period]). I had bought these shoes as an antidote to my habitual high-heel-wearing, not because high heels bother my feet but because a girl looks like a jackass wearing high heels in the park.
I walked about half a mile, marvelling at how cute my feet looked in the new shoes and discounting the slight pinching at the backs of my heels. At some point the pinching became unbearable, and when I removed one of the shoes to see what the heel-deal was, I was treated to the sight of blood. Blood and ragged skin. This required a limping detour to Duane Reade to purchase bandages and resulted in me losing the time I’d been ahead by (hello, awkward sentence structure) and thus rushing to wait for the bus to take me to the Friars Club.
Because I am a multi-tasker, I didn’t just sit idly by and wait for the bus to arrive. I made good use of the time and carefully dressed my wounds. (I must admit I am quite skilled at triage.) I even fashioned a rather sophisticated system of traction using objects found in nature, but by the time I was ready to get into position, the bus was there, inviting my entry. I hobbled on, and noted that I had approximately 35 minutes to reach my destination.
The ride went well, until we reached Central Park South and Seventh Avenue, where the bus sat through several changes of the lights. I started squirming and quietly muttering to myself (and quite possibly to the woman with the blond coif in front of me, if she chose to listen). At long last the bus lurched into motion … only to come to another standstill at Sixth Avenue. Another woman who had become similarly impatient and who had taken note of my impatience, said to me, “It’s all blocked off by the police,” and the two of us got off the bus.
And that was when I saw what was going on. This: a procession of too many “Mitzvah Tanks” to count. (See here for general information about the Mitzvah Tanks and here for the specifics of today’s “surprise” event. Gee, I didn’t see this listed in Time Out New York!) I would have taken a photo if I’d had more than four minutes to get to my destination. But as it was, I just had to settle for this comment to myself: “Oh, the irony is not lost on me. The mitzvah will keep me from the matzo!”
Here is a handy map that shows where I was and where I had to be:


Path indicated in red (incidentally, the exact shade of my blood)
Click for less fuzzy image

I had four minutes within which to run half a mile. Half a mile, during the lunch hour, in the busiest tourist area, with bloody feet.
So … what happened? Did I make it in time? Was the next leg of my trip without event?
Stay tuned! More … after the break! (A little American Idol humor!)
* Note to Ruthie and Gussie:  There is no apostrophe in “Friars”.