Or should I say, falling forward. I cannot recall a time in my personal recent history that would qualify as a significant ‘Woe Is Me’ month, but June, stands out. Enough already. I feel like a big complainer so I’ll put it all out there as succinctly as possible and move on. June, usually my favorite month of the year, marked the unveiling of a cast on my little finger to repair a detached tendon. At the doctor’s appointment I was a bit distracted by my arm in a sling from the previous weekend’s episode involving a wet wooden floor and a crash head first and downward. (Think: ‘help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!’) Dislocated shoulder.
Back to the finger. When the cast was removed it looked just the same as before. Not before the before, when it was a perfectly lovely little digit that extended neatly as it should, but after the freak accident and before the eight weeks—who’s counting? —that my finger spent in a cast. In case you want to know, this accident involved something even more inane than slipping on a puddle of my own making. This one was me, innocently getting out of a car to avoid soaking my feet in a deep puddle and catching my hand on something. Eight weeks should have been enough to allow the tendon to repair itself. It did not. At least not to my satisfaction. At the unveiling, I restrained myself from inappropriately yelling, “I HATE YOU, DOCTOR!”
This is a good result. I warned you it would probably not be perfect.
In other words, ‘I told you so.’ Snap. In all fairness to the doctor, when I returned a week later he concurred that it was not so good, that it had deteriorated and we are back at square one. Oh goody, another ten weeks in a cast, with slim hopes of improvement.
So after feeling sorry for myself for as long as I or anyone else can stand it, I find it is time to turn to comfort. Normally I would bake or cook my way out of such a slump, but being somewhat handicapped for the next few weeks until my shoulder heals, I am turning to eating my way out, well, drinking to be more precise. I considered going straight to the veins with vodka but restrained in favor of a long forgotten drink: a Broadway soda.
Back in the day, at the beginning of time when I was a child, I used to be treated to this soda by my twin great aunts, Beatrice and Viola (my great grandmother had a romantic imagination). Bea and Vi, or Twinnies, as the family affectionately called them, had a tiny dress shop called Gemini in South Orange, New Jersey and they specialized in brides’ and bridesmaids’ dresses. They fitted and altered the dresses and even attended weddings, standing at the back of the church to adjust the veils and trains and flowers and nerves of the bridal party. Twinnies were the essence of party, bridal or otherwise, giggling and fussing over you, making jokes, or commenting on someone’s lipstick or hair color. Although they were identical twins and sometimes strolled the length of Manhattan from Schrafft’s on Fifth Avenue and Thirty-Fourth Street to the Met in matching fur coats, they rarely dressed alike, except when Bamberger’s department store sent them on a European tour to model clothes from their collection. What Twinnies may have lacked in beauty they made up for in style. They walked a trail up and down Fifth Avenue stopping at Saks or Tavern on the Green in heels that would have deterred lesser mortals. The glamour of it! When I visited their shop, they always had a little trinket for me, or a pretty dress to show me. And then they took me next door to the drug store.
Drug stores in the 1950’s and 1960’s still had soda fountains where you could get a cherry coke, or a grilled cheese sandwich or a dish of ice cream. The drugstore next to Gemini wasn’t much. It was dark: long and narrow, barely wide enough to accommodate a small counter and a few musty-red, leather twirling stools. The sundries were tucked into the back cavern of the store. We sat down and ordered the same thing without fail: Broadway sodas. Twinnies—who always referred to themselves as ‘we’ in matters of taste (we don’t take sugar in our coffee, we like red nail polish)—had a sweet tooth and were careless about following rules when indulging it. Their rigid and strict oldest sister, my grandmother, would never have accepted their standards. But for Twinnies, if you wanted a Broadway soda for lunch, no problem! So today, I am doing exactly what Twinnies would have done. I am having my Broadway soda now, for lunch, and I am not looking back.
I’m not sure where the name came from, but my best guess is this soda once was a classic soda fountain offering for New Yorkers (and by extension for folks across the river in New Jersey). These are grown-up flavors, enhanced with the satisfying fizz of seltzer. I was schooled early, and so learned to love the coffee and chocolate combination by the time I was ten. If you love that combo and drink mocha lattes, then trust me on this. Nothing short of fabulous and addicting.
Broadway Soda (Serves one)
3 tablespoons chocolate syrup (see recipe below for homemade)
3 tablespoons milk
2 scoops coffee ice cream
1. Ladle chocolate syrup and milk into the bottom of a large (20-ounce) glass. Fill three-fourths full with seltzer. Top with coffee ice cream (the seltzer will bubble up, so leave room).
If you have the fixings at home, this just takes a few minutes to put together. It is good to spike iced coffee, too, if you want a quick pick-me-up on a summer afternoon.
Makes 1 1/4 cups
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Whisk the cocoa powder, sugar and salt together in a medium saucepan. Whisk in 3/4 cup cold water (for an extra punch make that 1/4 cup espresso and 1/2 cup water) and set the pan over medium heat. Heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into a storage container, cool to room temperature and refrigerate until needed.