Barred: The Ready Penny

When: Friday, 2:42pm

I imagine that on any given day, a parade of disconnected subjects may form the basis of bar stool stories. On this particular afternoon, hot topics at The Ready Penny involved stuffed cabbage and dental procedures, and these topics persisted the duration of two slowly sipped pints of Stella.

“That Stella is so strong first thing in the day,” was declared at one point in no reference to me. “Knocks your socks off.” Thankfully, I wasn’t wearing socks.

I only interjected myself into conversation once when no one else appeared to be familiar with Jeepers Creepers. Reinforcements were needed, even an introvert could see that.

Elephants also roam the bar Elephants also roam the bar

One of the only four customers on the late side of lunch brought stuffed cabbage in to share and snack on, as one does at the only remaining dive bar in Jackson Heights. By chance, another regular who apparently had his teeth recently fixed (“It’s going to take some getting used to” was the sentiment expressed while he was in the bathroom) was making stuffed cabbage for dinner.

His recipe? I missed what made up the “meat mixture,” though I’m guessing pork and beef, plus white rice from a Chinese restaurant, fried onion and garlic, tomato sauce using canned crushed tomatoes blended with light brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. Everything gets seasoned with parsley, salt and pepper. Don’t forget the Parmigiano-Reggiano, which must be freshly grated and not shaken from a cellulose-filled container.

The smoke points of grapeseed oil were compared to olive oil. It was decided that seasoned breadcrumbs should never be bought and always made at home.
A good 30 minutes later, the single-minded gentleman with improved chompers announced that he had to run to the store. “I forgot an ingredient for my stuffed cabbage.”

An obsession with stuffed cabbage is not required to fit in. We brought in stuffed parathas and samosa chaat, no biggie.

Was I carded? No, not even a question. I can’t imagine anyone even approaching underage attempting to sneak in.

Age appropriate? 40 feels downright youthful, which is the hallmark of a good dive bar. And though no women other than the not-old Irish bartender were in evidence–public, weekday drinking is mostly the province of men–I wouldn’t say they are unwelcome as long as they can handle overhearing “a corker” describe how “maiden juice” is good for dental work and pubic hair great for flossing.

The lack of female-friendly bars in the neighborhood is not just my lament, it has become an intermittent topic on neighborhood message board Jackson Heights Life and I’ve recently started chiming in because I’m now a homeowner and be the change and all that. My favorite quote to date: “I’ve been waiting for a place where a woman of a certain age can go to spend time with her neighbors!!”

For now, this is it.

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