Do you know about the cronuts? Let’s talk about the cronuts.
I had learned of cronuts about 7 years ago, which means they arrived on the scene much earlier because I am notoriously slow on the uptake.
A cronut is a combination of croissant and donut, invented (or at least, perfected) by a man named Dominique Ansel, and by all accounts, a real delicacy. For his Internet show, comedian Jerry Seinfeld drove his special guest Tina Fey to the eponymous Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street in SoHo, where they were greeted warmly by the owner, seated immediately, and served cronuts.
I need to make friends with Jerry Seinfeld.
For two years in my bachelor days, I lived in a no-bedroom mousehole on Twenty-second Street and Ninth Avenue, third floor up the stairs. My future-wife took one look at the hovel and almost walked out immediately, but didn’t, and now we’ve been married over 21 years and counting. The apartment, however, was dispatched fairly quickly.
In my current incarnation as New England denizen and dad, I land on Manhattan occasionally, generally for business. Rarely do I have an unscheduled few hours to laze about the place and do/go/see whatever I care to. This afternoon, though, sure enough, my official dealings ended earlier than expected.
When I departed the house for the trip, both my wife and the elder son asked for cronuts.
By tradition and legend, the would-be purchaser of an official D-A cronut needs to show up at the crack of dawn and stand in a long line. The bakery generally runs out quickly. I show up in the late afternoon, thinking that maybe the fad would have run its course. Nope, cronuts remain unavailable after the morning rush. On sale instead are other delicious-looking baked goods and confections, including something called a cookie shot, which is a syrup or beverage served in a rounded cookie that acts as a shot glass, and which I doubt I could sell (or even transport) back home as a cronut substitute.
So, on the recommendation of a Google search, I hike over to Doughnut Plant, a shop on the Lower East Side, listed among the finest donuteries of the city. The Doughnut Plant proves to be a counter up front and a bakery in back, and signs proclaim the place as the home of the Crème Brule donut, as well as the square-filled donut, and lots of other inventions beyond the pale of the ordinary. I buy 4 deluxe donuts for $16 plus tax, and they are nestled in my bag now. I imagine my arrival at home tonight: “Here you go, family—some New York City gourmet baked goods that aren’t cronuts but almost as pretentious!”
In between the two bakeries, I stop at Gimme Coffee in SoHo, buy a bag of beans to go and a cup for the stay, and park outside in the nice weather. I play a game of Internet chess on my laptop as people walk by, and in some cases stop and sit near me and drink coffee and have conversations with one another, although not me because I am playing chess. This is my New York moment.
Back in my ancestral home of Minnesota, my cousin Lloyd died, at age 87, after a sudden illness. We had visited him and his wife Marge last August, where they served us cookies and enjoyed meeting Nathen the toddler. As stated in the obituary, Lloyd served in the Air Force during the Korean War, a detail I had not known. My mother said he never talked about the experience. I assume that he was not flying the airplanes, let alone combat missions with bombs and dogfights, but I do not really know. After the war, when I knew Lloyd, he ran a hair salon and a dry cleaners.
I suppose the seven ages of man, as Shakespeare described, and Peter, Paul, and Mary sang about, could include soldier, at least for the generations that precede my own. When duty ends, the soldiers, or at least most of them, graduate from guns and uniforms and re-invent themselves as dry cleaners or pharmacists or another civilian career that strikes their fancy or comes their way. For men it was another step on the progression that began with childhood and adolescence, then onward to single adult, married guy, dad, and grandfather. I was never a soldier, or wanted to be one, but let me salute you, Lloyd, as well as so many others that we know, for your service, and your good lives. Alav ha Sholom.
Just now I called the hardware store on the telephone, was put on hold, and was trapped into listening to “Straight On,” by Heart, circa 1978. It’s a fine song and all that, but yet another signal that there is no escaping one’s past. Here I am doing my best to live in the present, taking care of business, paying da bills and raising da kids, and just like that I’M BACK IN HIGH SCHOOL. One song is all it takes.
I wonder if the afterlife is like that. When you first get there, your emotions and random thoughts flit you among various stages of your corporeal existence. One moment you’re making out again with an old girlfriend, and then you’re changing diapers on the kid who you remember as a teenager, and then you’re airborne above Korea in a fighter plane, with the enemy on your tail and Yossarian in the nose yelling LEFT, LEFT, LEFT, YOU BASTARD!!! And you wonder how you can get back to that make-out session, in the Honda Civic on the top floor of the deserted parking ramp. Eventually you figure out that all of these things are happening at the same time—your life in all its glory, as well your imagined life, and the imagined lives of others—and it all blends into one singular moment. In which you become stuck for eternity.
You may recall that this essay began with a discussion of cronuts. It will end the same way. If anyone has a good lead on cronuts—where to get them, and how—please let me know. I need to be in the good with my wife and son, and they still want cronuts. We do what we got to do.