Happy Birthday Eddie

Oh Ed! you’d mimic in our co-worker’s tone, feigning annoyance because you always got the best of him and your talent soared over the rest of us.

At Cafe Fidelio, you’d emerge on the stairway, up from the kitchen, brandishing a layer cake. Or a quiche. Or a chocolate torte you had just made. You’d put it on a cake stand under a glass dome, eyeing me in my apron behind the bar with that mischief that ran with you. And then we’d be ready for customers to come in.

You called me Blair Sweeney Todd the Demon Espresso Girl of Spring Street. Because that’s exactly what I was, but not so demon. I pulled espresso shots and rang up croissants for the pretty Soho people in their crisp shirts with the New York Times under their arms on their way to the C train.

You quoted Bette Davis and Joan Crawford like no one else could, and when you moved to San Francisco your boyfriend’s last name was actually Wright and you’d always tell me, over the phone, how you’d found Mr. Right.

I remember the black & white photos we took the day we rode bikes on the West Side piers that were crumbling and reeked of tar. I wore my green and white striped bandanna. And the time we brought a picnic and champagne in when we went to see Valley of the Dolls on St. Mark’s Place.

Later when you were a busboy for about a second on the Upper West Side, you’d clutch forks, knives and napkins in one hand, and with the other you’d tear off some butcher paper and trail it behind you to the table you were setting crying, “Hit the sky!”

You made my mom mincemeat at Thanksgiving and she loved that. You guys were like schoolgirl best friends together sitting on her sofa in Sty Town, drinking vodka tonics.

And then in Chelsea when it was all starting to fall apart, you’d always leave our little party around 11 and go out looking for more, always more.

So we lost you for good and for real, but your face, your laugh and your gorgeous black curls — always with us, Ed. We’d sit across from you in a booth at the Elephant & Castle, cracking up as you held a fake phone up to your cheek and ran through the lines:

I want to order some liquor. It’s Jane Hudson.

What do you mean, you can’t fill any more orders for me? My sister did?

Well — well, wait a minute I’ll — I’ll put her on…

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