The Art of Jewish Geography

While waiting with a friend for our lunch yesterday at one of the last cheap food establishments on the upper west side, I engaged the young scruffy fellow behind the counter in a rather successful round of Jewish geography. Now I know what you are thinking, but before you criticize me as a hypocrite for playing the game that I so despise, hear me out. While I severely dislike playing Jewish geography in certain situations like Kiddush, and singles events, there are times when it becomes a necessary key to survival and a fun way to pass the time.

My friend and I were the only people in the store, which is about the size of a newsstand, minus the interesting reading materials, laminated menus with soy sauce stains can hold your attention, and while Chinese menus are always quite interesting, my gaze was switching between the brown guys in the back chopping scallions and broccoli to be washed and checked by the mashgiach, and my wandering gaze to the beautiful girl standing next to me, I just kind of fell into it.

Our order came out to $22, and I made the comment that when Gan Asia opened, you would receive a free Lo Mein or Fried Rice with that amount of an order. The price of the free item has shot up to a whopping $35 surely much faster then the price of inflation and rising fuel costs. As I made this comment the scruffy semi-yeshivish looking fellow behind the counter and I started talking about the good old days, of $1.75 for a slice of pizza and how some dude came in the other day complaining about the price switch and basing his complaints off an old menu. I found the conversation interesting in that we were only in our mid twenties and already complaining like our parents “I remember when…” was being said 50 years before the appropriate time.

At this point in the conversation we switched to the requisite Jewish questions, where are you from, what do you do, what yeshiva did you go to, all that jazz. For some reason my cousins name was dropped and we had an instant connection. He went to yeshiva in Miami and so on, some other names were dropped, I found out he goes to Touro and all the sudden I was sitting in central park across from my lady friend eating chicken and broccoli and reading the fortunes that we found in the soggy rice fortune cookies.