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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

You Have the Right to Veal Parmigiana

Between my house and the office, there’s a sandwich shop I often visit. It’s hands-down the best in town.

How do I know? Is it the quality of the food? The service behind the counter, perhaps? The fact that I’ve been there so often, they know what I want when I walk in the door? Or that there are hardly ever any ashes or roaches or fingers actually in the food they serve?

No. It’s none of those things. I know it’s the best sandwich shop in town because that’s where the cops eat.

“I see so many cops there, I feel like I’m on parole. I’ve seen less police presence at a Whitey Bulger Fan Club meeting.”

Every time I go there, the place is littered with the fuzz. City cops, traffic cops, university cops — they’re all there, rubbing elbows and billy clubs and chowing down together. And frankly, it’s a little scary. I see so many cops there, I feel like I’m on parole. I’ve seen less police presence at a Whitey Bulger Fan Club meeting.

(That’s a New England joke, folks. You out-of-towners will have to either read up about Whitey or insert your own local scamp above. I can only cover one neighborhood at a time here.)

In some ways, breaking bread with the boys and girls in blue is a little scary. There’s no way in hell, for instance, I’m ever going to double-park there, and ‘just run in for a minute’. I’d have seventeen parking tickets and a busted taillight by the time I reached the counter. A seven-dollar sandwich is reasonable; three-hundred bucks and an impound fee would be just a tad pricey, even with the extra cheese.

You also never know when the cops are going to get itchy. The place is crawling with badges, and I’m worried that someday they’ll try to ‘one up’ each other to enforce the law. If I accidentally throw my soda bottle in with the non-recyclables, am I going to get handcuffed and Mirandized? If I drop my change, will I get the breathalyzer? If I neglect to tip, will they taser my ass and search me at gunpoint for a buck fifty gratuity?

(For the record, I always tip there. Partly because the owners are nice, and partly because I’m just cool like that.

But mostly because the only ‘toasted buns’ I need are the ones wrapped around my chicken cutlet. I don’t want no trouble, officer.)

Still, I keep going back. The gaggle of gun-toting lawmen may be a little nervewracking, but it tells me that this sammich shop is the place to be. There’s no better food for miles around, guaranteed.

Think about it. This is Boston — these cops could eat anywhere they want. They could shake down gourmet Italian joints in the North End for free pasta on the side. They could threaten to raid any number of shady-but-delicious Chinatown establishments, and walk out with all the dim sum they could carry. And the seafood! Plant a dime bag in the kitchen of any one of dozens of fancy-pantsed crab shacks around here, and you’re in line for tasty ocean treats most people can only dream of.

(Assuming you’re a cop, of course. One of us civilians drops an ounce of blow in the back room of Legal Seafood, all we’d get is an ounce less of blow and a lobster claw where the sun don’t shine. Sometimes, you do need the steenking badges.)

But are these cops out there, intimidating waiters and forging dirty back-room deals with five-star chefs?

Possibly.

But probably only when they want to impress a date, on the weekend. For their regular, workaday noontime meal, where do they all end up, screaming in with sirens blaring and pistols drawn?

That’s right. The little sandwich shop on the corner, just past the bridge. My shop, the same place I get my chicken cutlet special and two sodas three times a week.

Hey, maybe this is how all cops get started. Maybe I’ll walk in one day and they’ll be waiting for me, with my very own nightstick and a deputy badge. I could patrol the counter, keeping the lines single-file and breaking kneecaps on any fool who makes a special order. You want fries with that, buddy? NOT ON MY WATCH, MISTER!

Oh, yeah. ‘To Protect and Serve and Score Free Sammiches’. Where do I sign?

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