BY BUD SMITH
Ordering Take Out
6 1/2 Stars ☆☆☆☆★★★★★★
We ordered Indian food from a highly recommended restaurant near our new place. We useddelivery.com to place the order, (human interaction sucks, there’s always some confusion) but a couple minutes after my wife clicked the confirmation button, her cellphone rang anyway. She said, “Hi. Yeah. Buleri. B as in boy. The buzzer is really weird for our building, though. Will you call when you get here?”
She nodded as they talked.
“No problem,” she said. “Thank you for calling. We’ll wait.” She hung up her phone.
“They say it’s going to be two hours.”
“What is, the food? No shit? Wow.”
“I guess it’s good if it takes two hours.”
“That’s a good way of thinking about it. Like if we ordered the food and they were here in ninety seconds, we would know they have the tikka masala and the lamb curry in the trunk of a beat up Chrysler that was somewhere just slowly circling the area.”
“Yeah, exactly. And if they are busy that’s a good sign. A great sign, actually.”
“I’d feel even better about this Indian restaurant if they had said three hours.”
We’d just moved into the apartment and I was painting the living room pink. Or more like a salmon color, I guess. I wasn’t too familiar with the neighborhood yet, or any of my neighbors. As I was painting, I had the living room window open because the radiator was pumping jungle steam into the room.
We live on the first floor and people walking by on the street could see right in our apartment.
A drunk guy stumbling down the block stopped at the park across the street and he leaned on the wrought iron fence and he yelled at me, “HEY FAGGOT KEEP PAINTING THAT WALL PINK!”
I said out the window, “Okay, yeah, I will. Got this wall and three others. Coming along.”
And he yelled back, “GOOD JOB! … FAGGOT!” And then he walked farther into the park and that was that.
My wife was in the hallway unpacking boxes. Dishes were flying out of the boxes. She’d fling them through the air and they’d land perfectly in the cabinets.
Supposedly when her family first came to America, sometime around the turn of the century, they were trapeze artists. The Flying Buleris'.
Now look at all these books and knickknacks flying.
And think about trapeze artists soaring through the air, arms extended—caught at the last second by a sequined sister who is on another swing, dangling from her knees. All this death defying high air insanity occurring above the open top tiger cage, and the tigers with bellies grumbling looking up at the acrobats, like ‘Please please please, one of you circus freaks, please fall in my cage so I can eat you.’
I say, “I’m hungry.”
“I am too,” she says. “This is torture.”
“How long has it been?”
She checks her phone. “Hour and fifteen.”
I go back to painting and she keeps on unpacking.
A while later, outside the window I see a young guy walk down the street holding two plastic bags. I put down my paint brush and I say to her in the hallway, “I think I just saw the delivery dude walking towards the building.”
Just then her phone rings and it is the Indian restaurant. She nods and smiles, says to me, “They’ll be here in a minute. Can you go to the front of the building and get the food?” She doesn’t have shoes on.
I walk out of our apartment and into the foyer of the building. Then I walk into the vestibule between the street and the foyer. The door clicks behind me and I don’t have keys to get back in. I’m locked out of the building and waiting there for the delivery guy. He must be lost. Maybe he went to the wrong building.
But then the door from the street opens and the guy I’d seen walk down the street a minute ago is in the vestibule with me. He is maybe twenty years-old, of asian descent, and he’s holding two plastic bags.
“Hi,” I say. “Delivery for 1B?”
He looks at me and doesn’t say anything. He walks to the end of the vestibule and fumbles around in his pocket. I feel like shit for assuming he was the delivery guy.
That’s a typical move, ya know? Just complete stereotyping. I should know better. I’m ashamed, really.
Then the guy takes out his cellphone and he calls a number but no one is answering.
It must go to voicemail. He hangs up and tries again.
I’m picturing how my wife never hears her cellphone ring in the apartment. He must be calling us. I nod.
I figure now, this is the delivery guy after all, he just doesn’t speak english well enough to know that I was asking if he was the delivery guy. Or maybe I mumbled, because I am always mumbling and fucking things up. Or he thinks I’m just a crazy person because I’m standing out here covered in pink paint with my hair a mess.
I say again, loudly, slowly, “Hi. I am Apartment IB. Buleri. Indian food. Delivery.”
The young guy turns quickly and yells, “I LIVE HERE! I’M NOT A DELIVERY GUY! I LIVE IN THIS BUILDING!”
And then the door from the street opens and a heavy set white guy steps into the vestibule and he has the Indian food my wife ordered.
I thank him. I tip him. He leaves.
Now I’m stuck in the vestibule with my neighbor. And I’m trying to make small talk but it’s not going well because he’s figured out I’m a piece of shit, but that’s okay. He’s mostly mad at his sister who is not answering her cellphone to buzz him into the building. I walk to the keypad for the buzzer and look up my apartment on the list. There’s a convoluted code system to type in but I can’t figure out how the code system works.
“Do you really live here?” he says.
“I really live here,” I say.
“I’ve lived here nine years, I’ve never seen you,” he says.
“What? Like I just hang out in this vestibule and steal people’s Indian food and then don’t make a run for it?”
“Something like that,” he says.
The drunk man from before is walking down the street outside the building and I open the door and say to him. “Do you remember me? I live in this building, right?”
He laughs. “Yeh, how could I forget, you’re da faggot with the pink paint.”
“Yup! That’s me! Exactly. Apartment 1B.”
I turn to look at my neighbor in the vestibule. I hold up one finger, like, hey wait a minute, I’ll be right back. I’ll get us out of this jam.
I walk out onto the street and around the building and I’m standing right outside my living room window, yelling up. “HEY! HEY! BULERI!”
She sticks her head out the window.
“I’M LOCKED OUT! GO TO THE FRONT DOOR! LET ME AND OUR NEIGHBOR IN THE BUILDING!”
My neighbor, and new pal, Mike, he won’t come in our apartment and eat Indian food with us. He says, “Another time.”
He gets in the elevator and vanishes upward.
Tandoori Fish Ka Tikka Mazedar
9 Stars ☆★★★★★★★★★
Pieces (not gonna call them chunks like their website does) of some kind of fish marinated with saffron and garlic, and other secret magic spices they wouldn’t tell me even after six different, desperate emails. Grilled in clay oven, which is important. Has to be clay.
Murg Tikka Hara Bhara
Yard bird slathered in yogurt for a long time, maybe weeks. Ya know, let the chicken get perfect. Probably put the yogurt chicken in an underground cave like how they make cheese in Vermont and New York State. Then yogurt chicken is finally brought topside, spiced with coriander, Mint from Heaven, and fenugreek. All this is charred in a charcoal pit. Well hell yeah. Fenugreek, that’s not a typo.
11 Stars ★★★★★★★★★★
Nann is Indian bread bread made from enriched fermented dough. French people talk shit all day long about how great their baguettes are. Italians won’t shut the fuck up about how badass their hot loaves are … in truth, Naan is like The ring of Power from the Lord of the Rings. It is the One Bread that rules all other breads. Frodo has to carry Naan to Mount Doom and throw Naan in the lava. Except you’re Frodo, Mount Doom is your mouth and the lava is your stomach.
8 Stars ☆☆★★★★★★★★
Pastries shaped like triangles stuffed with green peas, chick peas, potatoes and chutney. Giving this eight stars because they forgot the date chutney! They forgot the tamarind date chutney! We still got the green chutney, what’s that? Mint and cilantro? That’s a good chutney, but everybody knows the date chutney is why I order Indian food in the first place. Wtf. Minus 2 stars for that.
2 Stars ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
A yogurt drink made with mango. Totally disgusting. Horrible consistency. I hate mangoes and I’m still pissed off about the date chutney not being in the bag. I’m not drinking this. I’m just not.
Alright, put it in the goddamn fridge, maybe later after I’m done painting I’ll drink it. Maybe put some tequila in it or something.
Bud Smith reports from Jersey City, NJ. Twitter: @bud_smith www.budsmithwrites.com. He wrote F250, Calm Face, and Dustbunny City, among others. He works heavy construction, and lives in Jersey City, NJ.