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Buss Up Shut

December 31, 2011

This great thing happened yesterday. All of the people in our building were invited down to the super’s workshop to a holiday party thrown by the super and his wife and the work crew that runs our small co-op.

Henry and I, with our dreams (my dreams) of an early bedtime, would arrive first, long before Daddy came home from work. “We have to get down to Debbie’s party,” we kept informing one another, during the pas de deux of me trying to get him shod and clothed and then him wondering just why Mommy isn’t ready.

Debbie is our friend and Henry’s babysitter. She is married to the superintendant, who we also hire sometimes as a handyman, plus they live in the apartment next door to us and are always on the premises. Consequently, they are the fixedest of possible fixtures in our apartment-dweller lives. Henry, who associates all parties with singing and cake, did not want to miss a moment.

To properly celebrate, Henry wanted to be sure that he had ALL of his cowboy gear either on him or with him, so he had the boots, the hat, and the guitar he got for Christmas, and I was compelled to carry his hobby horse. A cowboy needs a horse and a guitar, he explained. Not to mention a mommy to help carry his accoutrements.

The workshop is across from the washing machines in the basement so I’ve seen in but never seen the part where the party was — a big cement block room with workbenches normally full of work but cleared for the occasion. The periphery was lined with chairs and some big tables set out for food, and there was Soca (Trinidadian Calypso) dominating the soundscape, and cascading twinkle lights strung everywhere. They had warmed up what must normally be a pretty cold room.

The food was all stuff that Debbie had cooked, and it came down in huge foil containers that were slotted into stands with sterno containers under them.

I love our co-op. It’s a blend of different skin tones and different professions — nurses, court reporters, journalists, teachers, editors, writers, retirees, and accountants. No one seems destitute, nor does anyone appear to be living the Nobu-going lifestyle of the idle (or working) rich.

Last night, lots of us were gathered around in the twinkle lights scooping up our gracious friend and neighbor’s Spanish rice, braised oxtail, neckbone curry, potato curry, tamarind sauce, and torn up hunks of roti, the delicious, layered buttery bread known in Indian food as paratha. “Buss up shut,” Debbie called the pan of roti.

It often takes Debbie and I a few tries to really get what one other is saying, but I searched on “Bust up roti” when I got home and realized that it’s called Buss Up Shut, and it’s a specialty from Trinidad, where those guys are from. It looks like a torn shirt, hence the “bust up shirt,” hence the “buss up shut.”

The one thing I didn’t get to try that I wanted to was the Hennessy with cranberry they were making.

The inside baby and I scarfed and enjoyed two plates of food. (Uh, one apiece?) One neighbor kept telling Debbie that she was disappointed not to see the mango sauce this year, but personally, I could not get enough of that buss up shut with the tamarind sauce. Henry was shy except for with Debbie and I, and despite his status as a rice aficionado, only wanted to try the cookies: a white kind with chocolate stripes applied to one side and the chocolate bottom, and some pink wafers.

Chatting with the neighbors, I went into a sort of time warp and only realized that two entire hours had passed when I saw Henry yawning and rubbing his eyes. By that time, lots and lots of us were there with huge plates of food in our laps, and drinks in our hands, and Debbie’s son, an ace drummer, was standing up and tapping a screwdriver against a bottle of booze both artfully and thoughtfully. We had to go, though, and came back up in the elevator balancing the horse, and the guitar, and a huge plate of food for Daddy.

Happy this year. And happy new year!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Theresa permalink
    January 1, 2012 3:09 am

    Nice! Sometimes I really love Brooklyn. Love you and Happy New Year.

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