QUEENS, N.Y. - Just bought a slice of pizza.
Real pizza. The kind the size of a doormat. So big you have to fold it. So greasy the sauce seeps through to make the cheese orange. The kind that can only be bought in Queens, New York.
And that's the kicker.
While neon nails and reverse gender role ass-slapping may exist outside Queens, N.Y., the lingo certainly does not.
I'm talking "regular" and "slice" here, not the string of friendly expletives exchanged between the brunette and the pizza guy. That's right. Around here, you order pizza by the slice, and if you specify that you want a "cheese" slice you'd be laughed at (duh, all pizza has cheese on it). If you want more than a couple of slices, you order a "pie."
It's beautiful, really.
Now some of you Cavalier Daily readers may be skeptical about the beauty of this fine borough (that's one of the five sections of New York City - kind of like a county but not). While Queens isn't exactly the mecca of urban sophistication (you'd be hard-pressed to find a cafe latte around these parts), it's also not the icky crime haven as portrayed in Eddie Murphy's "Coming to America." Nor is it the John Rocker picture of bedlam.
It really is beautiful. You just have to look a little closely.
Take my neighborhood, Woodhaven. It's right on the border of Brooklyn. There's an elevated train line over the main thoroughfare, Jamaica Avenue, casting a constant shadow on the street below. Yeah, it may look "sketchy," especially when it's nighttime and the steel gates are on all the storefronts and a cast of unsavory characters hang out by the corner store.
But there's good stuff lurking there too.
Like the fact that there's public transportation. Two blocks from my house (the distance from O-Hill to the AFC) I can hop on a train and go anywhere in the city for a mere dollar and a half.
You've got the electronics/trinket/junk stores - dubbed "Chinese stores" by the politically correct - that sell the same trendy stuff that ends up in Claire's Boutiques in malls across suburbia. (But for three times the price of what you would pay in the Chinese stores.)
And there are bagels.
And deli sandwiches ("heroes").
And The Club (the anti-auto theft device).
Plus, there are Queens kids with their Queens fashions. As one crosses the line into New York City (or maybe just as one crosses the Mason-Dixon line), the male species trade in their dirty white baseball caps and baggy khakis for earrings and cell phones and/or beepers ("beepiz").
As for the girls, in the words of a famous serial killer, "The women of Queens are prettiest of all." (David Berkowitz, aka Son of Sam, 1977)
And of course, there is a cross-gender, cross-cultural general dislike of names that rhyme with "Shon Frocker." (Even Yankees and Mets fans come to a consensus on that one.)
And there are very few Archie Bunker types.
Geographically, you're wedged between a total urban landscape and suburbia. You go west and you head toward the city (the bright lights of which are best seen on clear nights and on the bridges to Queens). You head east and you're in Long Island, where you can go to the mall. You've got the best of both worlds in an unpretentious setting. Walking back from the pizzeria (yes, walking - you don't need a car to get around your own neighborhood), I did not dodge bullets. I did not witness drug busts.
I did not encounter one Starbucks.
I saw my neighbors on their porches and stoops. The elderly sipping iced tea. Young kids roller blading and tripping on cracked sidewalks. It was hot.
And the pizza smelled so damn good.