His parents owned the bakery in my neighborhood at a time when every few blocks every neighborhood had one. Their’s was called “Albert and Pierre.” The Albert an homage to my friend’s dad who was also named Albert and the Pierre, a tip of the chapeau to the idea that the best bakers come from France.
I miss, I’ll admit, bakeries. They’re few and far between these days, and when they do exist they usually exist in a snootier form than suits my taste. At least in Manhattan fresh-baked rye breads with caraway seeds and gooey cherry danish have been squeezed out of the bakery landscape by things like six dollar Technicolor macaroons and precious little cupcakes with curb-appeal.
I’m not sure why I dreamt of Albert last night. I was friendly with him, or at least I didn’t bully him like a lot of kids did due to his “touched-ness.” Once or twice, when he was being picked on, I probably even interceded. That’s something I’ve always been able to do. The privilege of my Promethean size and generally gruff temperament.
I dreamt last night that Albert and I had worked at an Agency together and Albert had been just recently fired. As either retribution or because he liked them, he had stolen some of the agency’s hand-painted coffee mugs. He didn’t want anyone to find the mugs and was looking for a place to hide them.
We found an old culvert and dug a small hole and hid the mugs there, covering them with about a foot of dirt, figuring that way they’d keep for a year or so or until the storm had blown over.
That was about it.
I’ve looked, in real life now, for Albert and Pierre Bakery, but it’s long gone. Like so much of my youth, it’s like a fist when you open up your hand. And as for Albert, I found his obituary in the online version of our local paper. It didn’t say how he died. Just that he had died. And died young.
It all makes me want to sit shiva.
And have a danish on the way out.