It's safe to say I severely underestimated the sheer logistics of purchasing and transporting a 6-foot hero to Aaron's birthday bash.
The notion started out innocently enough.
I've long fantasized about purchasing a sub larger than myself. All that meat! All that cheese! All that bread! The sandwich would simultaneously make me feel so big, yet so small. "I had no idea that this was a life goal," my girlfriend said when I divulged my carb-driven desire. Beyond a bucket list, I needed that enormous hunk of sustenance to serve as ballast against a boozy tidal wave.
Used to be, my friends paced their imbibing over the course of a night. Now, in our early thirties, 10 p.m. is a stand-in for 4 a.m. We can be swervy disasters, yet still awake for work only slightly worse for the wear. Such a quick pickling is made possible by hitting a saloon at 6 p.m. This leaves little time to eat dinner, thus hastening googly-eyed disaster.
And last Monday night had a high probability of disaster. It was Aaron's birthday, and we were convening at Pacific Standard (82 4th Ave. at St. Marks Ave., Brooklyn, 718-858-1951). A couple friends own the Cali-themed craft-beer haunt. They reserved a few tables and provided an all-night special: $3 pints of Sierra Nevada Celebration.
The brewery's winter seasonal is a heavenly load of caramel and pine, all cloaked in 6.8-percent ABV. That means three or four pints are enough to send most drinkers off the deep end. Not tonight, I decided.
Since Pacific Standard is situated in that no man's land between Park Slope, Gowanus and Boerum Hill, I oriented my sandwich search around that region. I rang Italian butcher G. Esposito and Sons, over on Court Street. They quoted $20 a foot for their standard Italian. Not too bad, especially considering that Subway charges $13 a foot for a party sub. Searching for a middle ground in cost, I called cured-meat emporium Caputo's Fine Foods, also on Court Street. Closed on Monday. Bummer. Next I tried Park Slope's M&S Prime Meats (312 5th Ave. betw. 2nd & 3rd Sts., Brooklyn, 718-768- 2728).
They make their own sausages and mozzarella, resulting in bang-up heroes at a bargain price: about $6 during weekday lunch, sided with chips and soda.
"Yeah, we can do an Italian for you," the guy on the phone said, quoting me $16.99 a foot for a mash-up of prosciutto, mortadella, sopressata, mozzarella and roasted peppers. "And can you do half fried eggplant and mozzarella?" Having a vegetarian girlfriend keeps my meat lust in check. "No problem." I put in my order two days in advance, so M&S could acquire the supersize bread from its bakery and inquired about delivery. "You have to pick it up," he said. "OK," I said, when I really meant, "Oh, shit."
How in h-e-double-hockey-sticks would I squire the sub to the bar? I owned no car. Cab? Not after spending $118.60 on a sandwich. I decided my best bet would be hoofing it a half mile to Pacific Standard. To aid in transport, I enlisted my friend Aaron. He arrived on bike. I arrived on foot, toting my dog, Sammy (Pacific Standard permits pooches). These were both bad, bad ideas, we discovered, upon eyeing our monstrous John Holmes sandwich—no man or woman could shove the whole thing in their mouth. Complicating matters, the hero was strapped to a wooden plank festively wrapped in foil. I grabbed one end. Aaron grabbed the other. Then we set off, two-wheeled bike and four-legged dog in tow.
In jaded New York City, citizens barely bat an eye at the weirdoes, scofflaws and strange birds that make this town such a delicious visual gumbo. Ho-hum, New Yorkers have seen it all—except, it seems, two men toting a 6-foot sandwich. "Oh my God, that's a big sub!" a woman said, passing us on the sidewalk. "Lemme get a piece of that!" said a guy at an auto-body shop. We were gawked at like we were topless dancers till we reached our destination.
Sweaty and sore, we deposited the behemoth on a table. The birthday boy arrived. His eyes bugged out, as big and white as a mozzarella ball. "I guess there's no skipping dinner tonight," he said, snagging a seeded chunk layered with cold cuts. For once, beer could wait.