8 Million Stories: Do-it-yourself Dessert

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DARCY is a dear, sweet friend who now lives on the Upper East Side with her MAD magazine staff-writer boyfriend Dave, in a swank pad on the fifth floor of a walkup on East 92nd Street. She’s a very serious person when it comes to work (development at MTV, but hopefully not much longer) and a very silly person when not at work. She also speaks in a whimsical little-girl-type voice that always manages to express amazement and wonder at some of the most mundane scenes around the city—but it’s not annoying or grating in the least.

She’s a truly wondrous, wonderful human being, and we always have ridiculous fun whenever we're out. I hadn’t seen her since November, and I missed her dearly, so we planned a dinner date: delicious and cheap sushi near her pad with lots of catching up and gossip. Following the sushi, the craving for sweets hit and hit hard: I was thinking cupcakes in particular, but any home-baked cookie/cake-type thing would suffice. So at a quarter to 10 we set off for cupcakery. The first bakery was pulling down the gates as we approached. I dropped to my knees on the sidewalk, raised my fists in the air and proclaimed to the heavens “CUUUPPCAAAKKEESSS!” The young buck drawing the gates grinned and remarked “We’ve been closed for an hour, dude.” I told him that an hour ago we were shoving sushi down our gullets. He told us to try the French place around the corner. We did, to no avail. A third bakery was also closed. At this point, the need for any kind of sweet-cake-type-product was unavoidable. So Darcy casually remarks, “Well, there’s a creampuff place around the corner that-a-way.” Creampuffs? Why are we wasting our time with cupcakes when we could be creampuffing our way off this mortal coil?

“Cupcakes sink to the bottom of your stone like a stomach, Darcy dear. Let’s trip the light fantastic with some creampuffs!” I hollered at the poor girl. So we hustle-muscle to the creampuff joint and arrive to a locked door. No good. Two Latina teenage employees were sweeping the creampuff crumbs off the floor. There was a fully loaded bag of creampuffs tied up and sitting on the glass counter, ready for the trash. I knocked on the door. The girls say, “We’re closed.” I say, “I know. I want that bag of creampuffs.” Darcy, behind me, shrieks: “GIVE US THE CREAMPUFFS!” The following interaction ensues, across the closed, locked glass door of Choux Coffee with us on the sidewalk:

Me: “We want those creampuffs!”
Employee: “I can’t.”
Me: “But they’re for the trash, right?”
Employee: “Right.”
Me: “So give us the creampuffs.”
Employee: “But I’d get in trouble with the manager.”
Me: “Is the manager around?”
Employee: “No.”
Me: “And those are just going to be thrown out, right?”
Employee: “Right.”
Me: “So give us the creampuffs.”
Employee: “But there’s no cream in them.”
Me: “We don’t care. We want those
Employee: “I dunno.”
Me: “Look. (Pulls $5 bill from wallet) Look. I’m going to leave this $5 bill right here as a tip for anyone who comes and takes it. And we’re just going to stand outside this storefront and wait for a bus. And we hope that someone just happens to leave a plastic bag filled with cream-less creampuffs at our feet, for the trash, while we’re waiting for the bus, and the $5 just disappears. That’s what we’re going to do, and we hope you get the drift and place those creampuffs outside for the trash. That’s what we hope happens, and we hope you hope it happens, too.”

Employee 2 just looks on incredulously as this whole scene unfolds. Employee 1 walks around behind the counter to talk to Employee 2. Me and Darcy take three steps toward the curb and pretend to wait for a bus. As we’re waiting, we hear the sound of a door unlocking and sneakers hitting the pavement. All of a sudden there’s a plastic bag at our feet. We ignore it. We hear the door close behind us. We pick up the plastic bag filled with cream-less creampuffs and turn to walk away. I notice that the $5 bill is missing from the sign.

We make off like bandits—calm, cool, collected bandits—with a plastic bag stuffed with creampuffs between us.) We then proceed to the local Gristede’s, buy two cans of Redi-Whip Whipped Cream (one heavy cream, one chocolate) and a box of strawberries, sit down on some wooden pallets outside the supermarket next to an outrageously enormous Plexiglass pear and proceed to DIY our own goddamn creampuffs. It’s the most delicious thing on the entire Upper East Side. Passersby are eyeing our do-it-yourself puffs with envy and delight. We laugh and laugh and stuff our face with puffs.

More of Matt Levy’s work can be read at [actiondirection.blogspot.com].

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