On my brief visit to Greenpoint, I was delighted to stumble upon the Peter Pan Donut Shop. Readers have been telling me to go there and I just never did. Now I walked through the sea-foam green entryway and took a seat at the back end of the snaking counter, where I ordered a chocolate egg cream and a toasted coconut.
Within minutes, the counter began to fill with old-timers, regulars, and I got the sense I had swiped someone's seat.
A woman wearing a wild auburn wig sat beside me, ordered an egg cream, and buried herself in the Post. A man who talked like Ralph Kramden sat on the other side, soon joined by his pals. Everybody knew everybody. They talked about ailments and hospitalizations, the recent death of Dom DiMaggio, and recounted the passings of their wives.
Now and then, they lapsed into silence, licking the stirrers from their coffee cups. Then the chat began again. They said things like "A nice piece of fish" and "What's wrong with 'dem Yankees, they can't win, eh?" One man, the Kramdenish one, opined, "Somehow, every year, seems like Father's Day always gets overshadowed by Mother's Day."
The waitresses, in green smocks with pink collars and cuffs, chatted with the men. When a favorite song came on the radio (Lady Gaga on an AM/FM with glowing dial), the girls broke into spontaneous, appropriately awkward, teenage dance.
Being in the Peter Pan Donut Shop is like being in Brooklyn, which is where you are when you're there, but it's the real Brooklyn, the lost Brooklyn, the one you hope to find when you go there but rarely do.
Here it is.