24 NYC Moments: March 2014

A “moment” from each month I spent in NYC. Sometimes tasty, always tRuthful.

Month 23: March 2014

“Lamb over rice with extra hot sauce,” I beg of the Middle Eastern man inside the halal cart. I was swept up in March Madness–you know, that annual college basketball tournament–earlier tonight. But my team (Wisconsin) got disqualified, and though I’m only mildly deflated as I walk out of the sports bar, I realize I’m incredibly hungry. I walk to the corner of Houston and Bowery, where I’ve agreed to meet my ex.We’re going to try to be friends. You know, “friends.” I pace the corner for a minute before I notice the halal cart, neon signs lit and no lines to be seen.  Naturally, I place an order.

He texts me saying he’ll be here in five minutes. That hardly leaves me time for halal! It’s not until the fifth minute my late night meal is ready. I shove a few forkfuls in my mouth in a moment of desperation, and then put the foam container in my purse as I see him approach. This is really a secret best kept between me, myself, and I–this is an indulgence, and guilty pleasure, and absolutely not something to be shared. He and I spend five more minutes trying to hail a cab on this busy weeknight and all I can think about is how my halal is getting cold. We’re finally in a cab, inching our way through Lower East Side traffic and inching our way through an awkward but hopeful friendship. I don’t really know what to say to him. Eventually, I realize I don’t have anything to lose by being honest with him.  “It’s good to see you,” I tell him. “I have halal in my purse, and I’m going to eat the rest of it now.” Tension, unease, our laughter, and that gamey, salty smell that can only be New York Halal drift out the open cab window and disappear in the clear New York sky.

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