the cheese danish phenomenon.

it’s like buying a cheese danish from the deli on the corner. you walk past it every day, looking hopefully through the graffiti’d glass thinking, “maybe today will be the day it looks fresh and delicious.”

it doesn’t. no one ever orders the cheese danish— you know it and i know it. the fact of the matter is this: you’ve probably been staring down the same pastry for months. it’s someone’s minimum wage-paying job to scrape the mold off of said pastry each morning and lovingly deposit it back into the standard size, roach-infested, lukewarm refrigerator in the basement each night.

true as that may be, the day eventually comes when you put on your big girl panties and announce to all of eighth avenue, “TODAY IS THE DAY. HEALTH CODES BE DAMNED, I’M GONNA PURCHASE THE HELL OUT OF THAT PASTRY.”

so you do. and it’s disgusting, just like you knew it would be. just like every deli pastry has been and will be until the end of time. this is what dating in new york feels like. there are cheese danishes with various sized penises sliming around all over this city, undressing you with their eyes, saying “come on, baby, just one bite,” and, you, in a dignity-at-all-times sort of way, courageously resist.

and resist.

and resist.

until one fateful day, you think “FINE. one dance with the danish won’t kill me, who do i think i am?”

you have your answer when, fifteen minutes later, you can’t quite mask your horror as the once delicious-looking pastry sitting across from you is enthusiastically demonstrating his alarmingly comprehensive collection of exotic bird calls. at a wine bar. and, fuck, he just asked for a miller light.

this cannot be happening. you, turning an ever-deepening shade of scarlet, find yourself mouthing “sorry” to the bartender-slash-sommelier only to have him wrinkle his nose and apply sixteen pumps of hand sanitizer in response. he doesn’t want your miller light germs.

“I AM NOT GROSS,” you furiously think to yourself, “i know the difference between a pinot and a cabernet. i have tasted wine that costs more than eight dollars. my shoes are michael kors, it took an hour and a half to straighten my hair, and i have walked past that goddamn danish no less than twenty-four thousand times without buying it. this was a blip, people. a passing lapse of judgement. you cannot blame me for giving this poor fool a shot! i am a lot of things and i may not be perfect but i am MOST CERTAINLY, UNDENIABLY NOT GROSS!”

… the establishment has gone quiet. the trendy jazz quartet has stopped playing. people are looking up at you with a mix of amazement and terror.

you are standing on the bar. you have been shouting.

“shit,” says the danish, throwing a handful of bills at the bartender, “i always pick the crazies.”

he’s out the door in seconds, leaving only the unmistakable remnants of a massive beer fart in his wake. you, sweaty and not even remotely drunk, are left wondering how to gracefully dismount without flashing your vagina to the security cameras.

the weeks go by. you go through your daily routine and avoid life-altering embarrassment. it’s 3am on a wednesday and you’re highly intoxicated. you need a cigarette and some nyquil. you need the deli.

“long time!” says the man behind the counter, staring you down with his one good eye, “cheese danish, right?”

you look up at him, taking in his standard-issue sweat-stained t-shirt. you’re ready to tell him off, to tell him you’ve sworn off pastries forever, that you wouldn’t be caught dead putting another one of those wretched roach infested travesties anywhere NEAR your mouth. his eye (singular) narrows as your mouth opens. without your permission, the words form and come tumbling out in an explosion of breath and sound, a life-sentence, the jury’s verdict:  

“…sure. keep the change.”