Denise has a friend named Joe. He's been in JC a long time, since 1990 or so.
The three of us were sitting at the new bar over by the embankment, creatively titled "The Embankment," when Joe mentioned that he thought he'd met me 18 or so years ago. He'd lived near Journal Square at the time.
"Would you by any chance have been excited about the Subway by Grove Street opening?"
I looked at him blankly.
"I mean the sandwich shop. That Subway."
I thought back. Didn't sound familiar. Anyway, what a horrifying thought to be accused of such a thing.
"I asked someone else recently if it was them and they were offended," continued Joe. "I remember meeting a housemate of Otis', and she was excited about the new Subway."
I didn't want to be foolishly offended and was already embarrassed that my first inner reaction had been DENY DENY DENY, so I tried hard to think of when the Subway at Grove Street had opened up. I think I was about 24 years old then.
"I have no memory of this conversation," I started. "But..."
I tried to explain.
"At the time, you could count downtown JC's hipsters on two hands. All we had to eat here was a bad Cuban-Chinese place where the Hard Grove is now, Big Chef Chinese, a Polish diner with terrible service, and a few pizza joints. Even the McDonald's didn't exist yet."
There had been the Tunnel Diner, a filthy, greasy joint by the Holland Tunnel exit. And the Flamingo Diner down by Exchange Place. Marco and Pepe's had been a bodega. The cafe across the street had been a refrigerator repair place. Newport Pancake House, now the Brownstone Diner, had closed in early afternoons.
"Heck," I said. "It was so bad that I got excited when Dunkin' Donuts opened. And I don't even like doughnuts!"
I stopped, embarrassed. Obviously, the mystery Subway booster had been identified. It had to have been me.