For all of you who know Benny, you know his love of food. He will romance anyone with food and he will make it difficult for you to resist. I think he would rather watch you eat than feed himself, it’s a toss up, almost voyeuristic. I do believe that’s how our love began and has continued. on for 20 years.
So I will tell you how our food romance began. We were introduced to each other by Fred Marcus at his Christmas Party in 1993. Fred was an attorney, Benny was his investigator and I was Fred and his wife Debra’s in-home massage therapist. They were not only incredible loyal clients but they became good friends and were always looking out for me. After our short introduction Benny told me that he had massages on a regular basis to get out the aches and pains from working out at the gym so I thought is was appropriate to give him my business card. I did find him attractive and intriguing but he was with another woman so I pushed any thoughts of interest out of my head. At the end of the evening he came over to me to ask me if I wanted to go for shrimp. It was after midnight and he already had not one but two women on his arms. Of course I love shrimp but who goes out late after a party were there was plenty of food. I politely declined and thought nothing more except that he may call me for a massage. Well the next day he called me to see if I was available that evening for a massage. I was always a little precautious with new men because some just did not respect my profession although I was really good at letting them know the deal….Massage is massage..go somewhere else if you are looking for something else. His appointment was at 8 PM, he showed up with his own Frank Sinatra music. I usually played some quite new age music during massages but what the heck. His foot tapped to the music throughout the entire massage. After the massage, he wanted to know if there was anyplace we could go to eat. I wasn’t use to going out late but I called around and found a local place that served until 10 PM. Little did I know this was just the beginning of the romance between us. Penne vodka at 10PM was the most fun I allowed myself to have in a long time and he enjoyed my moaning in delight over the food.
He scheduled a massage appointment every Friday night and every Friday night we went out to eat. Sometimes we went to Vincent’s in Little Italy and had Oysters in a scrumptious hot sauce or to China Town for choice dumplings or to Newark for fresh lobsters and shrimp. We did this for 3 months, he never even kissed me, he just watched me eat. My pants just kept getting tighter, he told me I looked great and just to buy bigger pants.
Somewhere along the way he did get me to join him at the gym for daily workouts so we had a good excuse to eat hardy.
I do remember the first real date, he actually asked me out on a night other than his massage night. He took me to Angelo’s in Harrison, a family owned restaurant where they made you feel like family. I had the most delicious meal I had ever eaten, Shrimp Angelo, it had shrimp the size of lobster tails with clams on a plate of linguine in white sauce. Oh my God, I thought I died and really went to heaven. I did take some leftovers home for the next day and remember thinking after I heated them up, “I have to date this guy again.”
At times we would meet for lunch at local joints, or Pal’s Cabin for burgers, or pumpkin pie at midnight at the Lyndhurst diner. Everyone knew Benny and would know just how he liked his food cooked and served. Waiters and waitresses wanted to please him because he was a heavy tipper or heavy hitter as I like to call him. They were always at his service.
He would go to Calandra’s bakery at midnight and knock on the back gate with a dollar in his hand to get a fresh loaf of hot bread. We would go to his place and make giant tuna sandwiches.
One night we went with our friends Marvis and Allen to our regular spot Touch of Sicily. It was owned and operated by Maria Castelli and her daughter Mary Jo. They treated us like we were family and it was as if we went to their house for dinner. He had a great night with food, laughter, and making our own dance floor to Frank Sinatra music. We stayed so long that we had to order another meal including a second dessert. Oh the pounds keep adding up!
Some nights I couldn’t wait to get home before I exploded. I wondered how he could continually eat like this. He never had gas or had to use the bathroom or so I thought.
You see he’s also very OCD (obsessive compulsive). He drove an older model Chevy and was meticulous about the car. He stopped often to check the tires, so I thought he was always just concerned about the old car’s tires. Until one day we picked up 10 year old Erica, his friend’s daughter to take her to school, she said to me in her snarky way, “so Kathy, has Benny been checking the tires?” It took me a minute but then I got it. He wasn’t checking the tires all those times, he was getting out of the car to fart! Ever since I said “I Do” he stopped checking the tires.
So I am 30 pounds heavier but very happy and in-love with my romantic FOOD DEVIL.