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June 17, 2021

I met Leroy while helping on Al-Mudhif, a Marine veteran whose
first day of Parris Island boot camp happened to be 9/11. He'd been
expecting a peacetime stint but ended up doing three infantry tours
in Iraq. Compared to that, the Philly Taco Challenge seemed pretty
tame, so when he asked if I wanted to try it, what could I say?
(I found out later it was his first time, too.) He's an affable
guide; on the long walk up Passyunk he pointed out all
the best jawns, and at the wide intersection at 9th
he explained the differences between Geno's
(rightwing, racist, cheap meat) vs. Pat's
(actual cuts of steak). We got giant
slices at Lorenzo's, and I
saw how you could
wrap a whole hoagie
in one
. The cashier
was the first ever to
comment on my They
T-shirt: "Is that a band?"
Before I could explain it was a film, she remembered
seeing it--"the one with the glasses!" Then she asked if I
knew Soylent Green. I started to say, "It's people," then
exclaimed, "It's pizza! It's pizza!" Got our "wit Whiz"
cheesesteaks at Ishkabibble's and found an unoccupied
picnic table in the shade of a tree-lined traffic median.
I'd been a bit self-conscious about doing such a contrived
tourist schtick, but then a passing local interjected, "That's
legit!" It was delicious. And not long after, I felt like this.