Sunday, July 03, 2005


Some people will do anything to beat a toll.

Several years ago, our friend Harris the Foot Doctor was dating a young Manhattanite. This was trickier than it seems at first inspection, as Harris lived in central Connecticut, a good two hours from New York City, and had a young son as well. But somehow, this (ultimately ill-fated) romance caught hold, and Harris would make the trek to the Big Apple several times a month.

The young lady was the daughter of an observant Jewish family that owned a bakery. One Sunday evening, as Harris prepared to take his leave, the young lady’s parents presented him with a treat, a freshly-baked Chocolate Babka, enclosed in the traditional white cardboard box and secured with red and white striped baker’s string.

Picture it: Sunday night on the New York Thruway, the initial part of Harris’s long trek home. It’s a tough trip to face late of a Sunday evening. First you have to thread your way through the side streets of Manhattan over to the East Side Drive, then cut over to the Bronx to start the northbound run on I-95 to New England. And, after you get into Westchester County, there’s one toll plaza, in Mamaroneck, New York. Back when this story took place, the toll was, what? A dollar - maybe $1.25. Not a big deal, but you still had to dig it out of your pocket or coin tray and pay the man in the booth.

It’s a lonely drive with only a Chocolate Babka on the front seat to keep a man company.

Picture it: Harris is driving along, and it’s late, maybe eleven at night. The aroma of the Chocolate Babka fills the car, and it has been long enough that dinner is a distant memory. The Chocolate Babka Pong becomes so intense, so alluring, so irresistible, that Harris does what any red-blooded American Male would do. While flying down I-95 through the towers of the Bronx, he manages to get his right hand into the bakery box, tearing it open just enough to allow him to extract chunks of the warm, chocolaty treasure within.

If you, my Esteemed Readers, are somehow unfamiliar with Chocolate Babka, let me tell you that eating Chocolate Babka with the bare hands is an Exceedingly Messy Operation.

And so it is that Harris comes coasting up to the Mamaroneck Toll Plaza, right hand completely adrip with a horrifying, brownish-black mass of Chocolaty Goo.

One look at that Right Hand, and the terror-stricken toll-taker waved Harris right through. Gaaaah!

Some people will do anything to beat a toll.

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