Coffee Klatch at Lety’s

After a long day of skills testing and job interviews, by the time I got home, I was cooked. I needed to kick back and chill. A cup of coffee seemed like the perfect antidote.

So I changed into comfortable clothes and walked to my favorite neighborhood bakery, Lety’s. The day was glorious. Sunny and Spring-like.

At Lety’s, I bought myself a coffee and one pignoli cookie (trying to be good, though I really wanted two) and found a table. I plopped down and opened my book.

Three old cronies from the ‘hood sat down at the adjacent table. Their conversation was fast and funny. I couldn’t stop listening. I closed my book, took out a pen and started writing it down.

They covered a wide range of topics. Here are some snippets:


“It’s a steakhouse at Christie and Delancey.”

“It’s not a steakhouse.”

“Whatever. But this is the killer. On each table they have a container of chocolate syrup and a bottle of seltzer.”

“And you gotta get the chopped liver and the schmaltz!”


“I went to the doctor today. I picked up two containers of coffee, one for the receptionist…”

“Did you use your coupon?”

“Yeah. I had to wait two hours. The doctor overbooks appointments.”

“Is that the one whose office is across from McDonald’s and the pizza place?”

“Right across!”

“Remember that doctor on Mulberry Street who weighed 270? At the end of each day, he’d go into one of those Italian restaurants and eat like he was going to the electric chair. And he smoked Camels! Do you know he lived to be 90 years old?”

“I know him. He was a two, three dollar doctor. If you were broke, he wouldn’t take money from you.”

“But his wife was the receptionist. She wouldn’t let you out of the office unless you paid.”

“I remember this doctor who used rusty needles. He dipped them in alcohol. If the Health Department ever walk in…? Fuggedaboudit!”

The Old Days

“Ice cream sundaes was fifteen cents. With the real strawberries in there.”

“In the theater, nickel candy was a dime, so you brought your own.”

The Movies

“I went to see that 3-D movie, Avatar.”

“You gotta be sick to see that. Space ships flyin’ all over the place.”

“With the 3-D glasses. If you take them off you can’t see the movie. It’s blurry.”

“What a racket.”

Current Events

“A lot of people are running away from Scientology.”

“John Travolta. Tom Cruise. I seen their place out in L.A.”

“Did you see the rabbi that molested the kid? He got pinched.”

“Did you hear about the rabbi who said that lox is not kosher?”

“That was in the 2nd Avenue deli. They were slicing it on T.V. I was getting hungry just watching it.”

“On Toidy-toid Street, right?”


“My blood pressure is 103 over 68.”

“That’s too low.”

“When I exercise, it goes down to 98.”

“Whoa, that’s too low.”


“She’s a pretty bright woman. You can’t screw around with her.”

“She knows where it’s at.”

“She had her little dog in a carriage with a Santa suit on.”


“What about the guy on the San Diego Freeway in a Prius going 90 miles an hour and couldn’t stop it. Toyota told him there was nuthin’ they could do because his model wasn’t recalled.”

“What about that guy whose car crashed into a crowd of people at 90  miles an hour. A Toyota. And he’s been in jail for two years!”

“So far 83 people in the United States got killed by Toyota.”

“Should’ve used the handbrake.”

“Remember the handbrake in the old days? Now, I wouldn’t be able to find it.”

“Mine’s on the left, on the floor.”

“Mine’s in the middle. It’s a foreign car.”

I hated to leave all that entertaining conversation behind. But I left Lety’s in a much better mood than when I’d come in. As I turned down my street, more entertainment. Two teenagers were conversing on the sidewalk, a boy and a girl.

Boy: ” I never said she looked like…”

Girl, hands on her hips: “You brother said you did! Why would he lie?”

Boy, throwing up his hands: “He’s an exaggerator!!!”

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2 Responses to “Coffee Klatch at Lety’s”

  1. Sasha Says:

    sue, this is so funny, i love all your overheard conversations and it makes me happy to think of you overhearing them in your corner coffee shop. wonderful new york! thanks for visiting me and commenting on the dzama piece. he really is incredible. i love the work more and more. it’s not just cute and fuzzy, it’s dark and dangerous and deep, and i have so much more i want to explore and say about it!

  2. Elyaqim Mosheh Adam Says:

    This is brilliant! Lety is a great place. How did you transcribe such long segments of conversation? Do you know shorthand?

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