[Editor’s Note: New York-based flash mob/improv troop “Improv Everywhere” recently made headlines when they packed Katz’s Delicatessen with 20 couples who – in unison – recreated the famous orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally. Little did Improv Everywhere know, David Manheim – The Last Jewish Waiter – was watching…]
So it was a few months ago, over the Summer I think.
It was a Sunday, and on occasion on Sundays I work forever – From nine in the morning to nine at night. These shifts are utter craziness, bordering on psychedelic. Every three hours I lose a little grasp on my humanity, dealing with so many people. It was 10 hours in, and the store was busy when my station filled up. An unlikely looking young couple shared a table with some French tourists. I don’t know what it was that made them stick out like sore thumbs; Maybe it was that they were in their early twenties but didn’t talk to each other. Or maybe it was because the guy had a camera and was shooting aimlessly for the entirety of the meal, and he’d only ordered a coffee. I didn’t give them the usual business of not ordering coffee in waiter service. I just let them stay, asking about why he was shooting – he was focused, basically ignoring me – until I lost interest. I had a very full station, so I didn’t pay it any mind.
That’s when it started to happen
Often at Katz’s Deli there are women – brazen, reckless women – with a need to perform. They sit at the ‘When Harry met Sally’ table. And they try to out-orgasm Meg Ryan. I’ve seen it done many times. To be totally honest I’m never particularly impressed. Never. The women who are usually more into it have a quality of sheer crazy about them that I can’t watch. It’s like bad performance art or slam poetry or something, I always need to look away. On that Sunday though, the offender was a purist, really going for the Meg Ryan thing. I was angry, as I often am. But why? Probably because I was ten hours into a double while this woman got to fake orgasm while enjoying a pastrami sandwich. I ignored her, and got soup for someone. As I served the soup, the second one started. What was this? I was minorly agitated when the third woman got going, and then the fourth. The restaurant noise was suddenly replaced by a chorus of women orgasming. The store erupted into a mock orgy, and I took notice. I stopped working and took a moment to watch the women fall out of their chairs to the sheer delight of both New Yorkers and tourists, alike. Then I looked at my fellow Katz employees. During a long shift boredom and rage are usually the only feelings we share. But for a few short moments we were transported thanks to the fake carnal delights of a roomful of actors, god bless them.
In the end it came out that they were doing a public happening. We were punked by this hippy crew of actors and camera men. It was a moment when the rug was ripped out from under our old New York tough guy veneers.
And I have to say, even I enjoyed it.
Watch for David in the background at the 2:21 mark: