When Harpo Played His Harp
Last weekend, I went to Philadelphia to visit my great aunt and suss out what they refer to as 'The Sixth Borough'. I didn’t get to see most of the city but from what I could tell, Philly is kind of like a more casual version of New York.
My 91-year old Aunt Bea (yes, I really have an Aunt Bea) has been living there her whole life and, from her point of view, nothing is what it used to be; she laments the city’s alterations like she mourns the dying out of her generation. The apartment building she has lived in for over 37 years, which is directly across from the art museum and the Rocky steps, is now starting to appear rundown.
Even the food has depreciated, she carps, after we have moved tables in one restaurant to avoid a draft. “Young man,” she flags down the waiter, “these crab cakes are not as full as they used to be.”
At lunch, I offered her a piece of my bread pudding, but she declines, telling me that she has gone 91 years without tasting bread pudding and she is not about to start any time soon. The same goes for yogurt, because she doesn’t like the way it sounds.
Eventually, she sent me back to New York with an assortment of (now) vintage beaded handbags. I also collected a real leopard-skin pill-box hat, as well as her life story.