May 20, 2011

Gimme a Slice

Quite a few years ago my younger brother (but not the youngest), Don, was dating this girl, who we'll call Shelly. Shelly was a lovely girl, and our family liked her a lot. One day Don decided to bring Shelly to New York. I was excited; I love Don, and I love it when he visits. In my first year and a half in NYC he must’ve visited me six times, and we always had a great time. The Upper East Side studio I lived in then was a decent size for a studio, and I always welcomed visitors to stay with me on the air mattress that constantly had to be replaced because Cosmos was excessively fond of sinking his claws into it.

A week or so before Don and Shelly were due to arrive, Don called and said that he had a opportunity to go to Europe with his roommate that he couldn't pass up. However, it was during his planned NYC trip; but his girlfriend was still going to come. Uh… OK. I mean, I’d met Shelly, what? Once? Twice? I can be a shy person, and I had no idea what I would do with this girl I barely knew for a week in a studio (which was also my office, as I worked from home) without my brother.

A few days later Shelly called me to discuss her visit. She thought I would be picking her up from the airport. Darn Don again! I had to be the one to break it to her that I don’t have a car, and nobody picks anyone up at the airport here since it's too expensive to take a cab and takes too long to use public transportation, so she would be on her own to get a cab and make her way to my apartment by herself. I felt like such a jerk. Then she told me that she was only 20. She couldn’t even go to bars yet! And she’d be here for St. Patrick's Day! ARGH, DON!  (I was in my 20s then, so it was clearly still very important to go out on St. Patty's Day.) And then she told me the worst part... she was a vegan! I didn’t even know what that was, and when Shelly explained it, I was horrified. She had done her research and had a long list of vegan restaurants that she wanted to try. Oh, goodie. I would have to play tour guide to a 20-year old vegan who I barely knew  for a week while she stayed with me in my studio apartment. I was less than thrilled with Don.

I shouldn't have been such a worrier. As it turned out, that week with Shelly was a blast. Shelly was a hilariously funny, extremely interesting, super smart, very independent, incredibly mature, all-around good time. (Sorry for ever being mad, Don.) She had me laughing the entire time, and even talked about String Theory with me, and knew what she was talking about. (Most people glaze over when I mention such a topic, and she had actually read all about it and was as fascinated by it as I was.)

Not for one second did Shelly need me to show her around. She had her maps and her ideas of what she wanted to see, and when I started work in the morning off she happily went to explore the city. We even were able to go out on St. Patrick's Day because she had found an 18 and up club, The Knitting Factory. I had a blast with her that week and was sad to see her go.

Now years later that spunky girl is my sister-in-law, and the mother of the most adorable toddler ever, my goddaughter. Though she’s no longer vegan, the vegan restaurants that she introduced me to are places I now frequent and was thrilled to know about once I grudgingly semi-accepted my body's civil war with milk. Shelly was ahead of my time, and I thank her for it. (Thanks, Shelly!) Thanks to her, I had already been to Slice, an organic pizza place that caters to food-challenged people, providing options like dairy-free cheese and gluten-free crust. Pizza! It's a wonderful thing to pretend to eat real pizza. (Okay, so you can't beat real pizza with ooey gooey cheese, but it's nice to pretend, and the melty gooey texture of Diaya really meets a craving I didn't even realize was part of the pleasure of eating cheese. The taste needs some work, but it'll do for now.)

Isn't it funny how things work out so nicely in life sometimes? 


  1. Do you still knitt?


  2. Awesome story, Julie! Shelly sounds fabulous. Just discovered your blog through Mike's... I will be laughing about Graybeard alone for the rest of the day, so thank you. Jaime also might have a gluten or dairy allergy (we're still trying to figure it out), so I'm looking forward to reading your blog!

    Please give G (Graybeard, of course) a big hug for me.


  3. rllw, yes, I do still knit. I have a half-finished scarf in a basket in my living room to prove it. But it's been there for at least a year. So do I have to say no?

    Amy, thanks! Mike's blog is HILARIOUS (, for anyone who is curious). I love reading his columns. I want to be that funny. As for Jaime, I really hope she doesn't have either of those allergies! But if she ends up being allergic to dairy, I can help her learn how to go dairy-free. I'd be happy to talk to her about how I figured out dairy was my problem (it's not always as easy as doing an allergy test, as those have lots of false positives/negatives--in my case, one set of test results said I was allergic to everything--which I'm not!). Good luck figuring it out!