A Wienderdog with everything please
I spent the summer of 2008 in New York City. I wasn't there for fun or a chance at fame, but to take care of my aunt who was dying of a brain tumor. My mother took the day shift, dutifully showing up at the hospice center in the Bronx. I had night shift, complete with a pull-out cot by my aunt's bed so I could be close enought to hold her hand.
Those nights were eternal. I would crank up the television, which was always tuned to Turner Classic Movies. The melodrama of Douglas Sirk seemed to suit the situation in a way that reality telivision or CSI didn't. Yes, life was in technicolor and the accompanying soundtrack featured lots of violins and organs.
Very near the end on one of the hottest days of the summer, I left the hospice and took the subway back to the Upper East Side to rest in my aunt's apartment. Once I got off the train I realized that I couldn't go back in that apartment. My mother and I were in the process of dismantiling it and cleaning it to sell. The sight of my aunt's things in boxes made me sick: her college yearbook, piles of empty Chanel bottles, her tiny socks and shoes, her makeup rotting in the Bobbi brown containers, and all the mail left unopened. I decided I wouldn't go back, ever. It was a childish decision, like when you tell your parents you're running away and all you have is your backpack and your Nancy Drew #55 book. It had no basis in reality. But I went with it and ended up at Tasti D-Lite, a new york ice cream joint. It's smaller than a postage stamp and more comforting than a letter from home.
It was in this miniscule place that I saw my biggest crush, inspiration, and obsession: Heather Matarazzo aka Dawn Wiener of the film 'Welcome to the Dollhouse.' She was ordering cookies and cream, and though she was many years older than she was in the film, her face is one you don't forget. I froze. You always imagine those moments, but when they come your imagination, mouth, sanity all leave you. When the woman behind the counter asked me what I wanted I told her, "I'll have what she's having." This got Heather's attention and she turned to me and smiled. This is when I was supposed to tell her how much she'd meant to me, how that film made me feel less alone in the world. How it saved my life on several occassions. What did I say?
"The cookies and cream is slamming."
"I know," she said. "I'm having it for breakfast."
She then turned and left the store and I had the courage to return to the aparment.