A cheesesteak sandwich from Pat's with Cheez W...
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For Molly Spooner’s 2?th birthday, we took her out to our favorite piano bar, Marie’s Crisis in the West Village, followed by Joshua Tree on the lower east side. Molly’s parents were also coming along for part the evening and were eager to see Marie’s Crisis, where a couple hundred people gather nightly to request and sing show tunes.
Molly’s parents were not only amused by the bar, but at the attention that we received from others when pieces from West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music were played. We also recognized and pointed out a flamboyant man to her parents who motor-boated Molly the weekend prior. Like Molly, her breasts are a little out there.

As usual, we had our usuals; I had a vodka cranberry, Rachel a vodka tonic and Molly a gin and tonic. I learned early on not to piss off bartenders in busy bars by asking for complicated things. A vodka and cranberry is really close enough to any fruity thing I would order anyway, and if I really wanted to get inebriated, I could always count on Long Island to do the trick. Before long, we were joined by about 30 voice majors in the packed bar trying to do our best Patty LuPone impressions.
When Molly’s parents retired to their hotel, we took several cabs to Joshua Tree on the lower east side. Although there was definitely a closer location we could have gone to, the lower east side Joshua Tree continually proves to be the most fun. The bar boasts huge platinum televisions in the back all showing the music videos to our favorite 80’s music, which was blasting through the speakers. By this time, we all had purple birthday glasses on and were trying to sing along to the music. As the night went on, my friend Ashley Cutright pointed out to me that we were the only two people left without dates. This was true, Rachel’s latest squeeze came to join the party, our friend Mandy was being entertained by another guest, and our friend Elena was dancing more than a little close with another pianist named Abdiel. It was about this time that Ashley and I decided that we were hungry, and that we should ditch the lovebirds to search for food.
When we stepped outside Ashley said “Ugh! This is so annoying, are the two of us going to have to go all the way back to the dorms by ourselves?”
“Probably” I answered
Right next to Joshua Tree was famed (every place in NYC calls themselves famous, or a landmark…) Philly Cheesesteak vendor, Carl’s Steaks. As we eagerly got in line, the rest of the party followed suit.
“They’re closing” said Mandy as she stumbled in on the arm of her new suitor.
“So what are you having?” I asked Ashley
“I don’t know! I’m vegetarian and this menu doesn’t look promising, but I definitely didn’t eat dinner today” she replied rubbing her tummy.
“Why not cheese fries!” suggested the cashier
“Oh that’ll work” said Ashley
“And I’ll have a Philly Cheesesteak… with Cheez Whiz!” I said as I read that Cheez Whiz was the original Philly way.
When we got our food, we formed a tightly knit huddle of multicolored pea coats. Everyone but Ashley was enjoying a sandwich while she dipped her fries into a small container of hot Cheez Whiz. It was around this point that a man with a huge professional looking video camera came out and started filming us.
“Umm guys” said Rachel indicating the cameraman.
“You look great!” said the man “Seriously, just keep doing what you’re doing”.
“But what are YOU doing?” asked Mandy
“We’re shooting a promotional video… you guys will be famous!”
Ashley immediately got nervous and yelled robotically into the camera “Carl’s Steaks! It’s the best! YUM!”
The cameraman said “Oh you ruined it! I’ll just come back when you don’t notice, because really, you guys look amazing the way you’re eating those things!”
Hmm… that’s not the first time I’ve heard that.
As we kept talking, Ashley pointed out that the cold air was turning her Cheez Whiz solid. Slowly her fries also lost the battle to the cold air and hardened too. Just as the cameraman eased his way into our circle and focused closely on Ashley’s face, something incredible happened… “This is fucking disgusting!” yelled Ashley with all the resonance she possessed. She then looked up, and realizing her error, started over again. She smiled, held up a fry with the now crusty cheese product and said “Carl’s Steaks! It’s the best! YUM!”