The long quest for truth, justice and good pastrami


April 10, 1992|By ROGER SIMON

NEW YORK -- Good Roger sat in the back of the Bill Clinton press bus writing down the questions he was going to ask the candidate.

Really good reporters always write down their questions in advance. So you can bet that before he went on the air, Phil Donahue wrote: "So tell me, Bill, you still fooling around or what?"

But Good Roger did not know what to ask Bill Clinton first.

"Should I begin with a question on the International Monetary Fund?" Good Roger mused to himself. "Or hit him with a hardball on our acid rain pacts with Ottawa?"

Good Roger muses to himself a lot. That's part of what makes him such a dweeb.

Suddenly, a large man in a blue suit, dark sunglasses, a dazzling white shirt and blue tie, burst onto the bus. He was either a Secret Service agent or trying out for John Tesh's job on "Entertainment Tonight."

"We have a suspect outside who claims to be Bad Roger," the agent said.

"Oh, no," Good Roger said. "What has he done now?"

"He tried to hide something in his luggage and smuggle it aboard the press bus," the agent said.

"But bad as he is, Bad Roger would never conceal a weapon in his luggage!" Good Roger cried.

"It wasn't a weapon," the agent said. "It was a Radio City Music Hall Rockette."

"Oh," Good Roger said.

And that is how Good Roger and Bad Roger found themselves kicked off the Clinton bus by the Secret Service in the middle of Manhattan.

"What a bunch of mugs," Bad Roger said. "They learn how to talk into their sleeves and they think they own the world."

"They were just doing their jobs," Good Roger said. "And it was a second offense for you."

"Some offense," Bad Roger said. "All I did was ask Hillary Clinton a question at a press conference. If she is going to campaign, she has to learn to field tough questions."

"You asked her if she wanted to go to Roseland with you and samba until dawn!" Good Roger cried.

"I never said Bill couldn't come with," Bad Roger said. "Just as long as he waited in the car."

"What are we going to do now?" Good Roger asked.

"There is only one thing to do when things look their bleakest," Bad Roger said. "Lunch."

Good Roger immediately brightened. Bad Roger was always promising to take him to the Carnegie Deli, where the movie "Broadway DannyRose" was filmed and where Henny Youngman can be found in the flesh.

And that is where they went. It was very easy to get directions from a passing New Yorker. All Bad Roger had to do was throw a headlock on him and squeeze.

When they got to the restaurant, Good Roger stopped a waiter as he hustled by. "Do you have a table for two in the non-smoking section?" Good Roger asked.

"Sure," the waiter said. "Or you could just sit any place and hold your breath."

"That's what I love about this joint," Bad Roger said. "It has a major attitude."

Bad Roger sat down and ordered a pastrami sandwich extra fatty. Good Roger ordered an American cheese sandwich with mayo on white with the crusts cut off. Sometimes you just want to slap him.

"Don't listen to this shmendrick," Bad Roger told the waiter, lapsing into deli argot. "Bring him a pastrami and I'll force it down his throat."

When the sandwich arrived, Good Roger ate it with gusto. "How did you find this place?" he asked.

"It part of my lifelong quest for the perfect deli," Bad Roger said. "I have looked in the most unlikely corners of the globe: Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Grenada, Los Angeles. And my search still continues."

"But now," Good Roger said, "we must continue on the presidential campaign trail and go to Pennsylvania. I think we can get on the Jerry Brown press bus. He doesn't believe in standards."

"Wrong," Bad Roger said. "Here is where we go next."

And he took from his pocket a gray business card that said: "Authentic New York Deli! Wall Street Deli. Chesapeake Village Outlet Center."

"I cannot imagine a more improbable place to find pastrami," Bad Roger said. "And we must go there no matter what the risk."

"You don't mean!" Good Roger gasped.

"Yes," said Bad Roger. "Next stop -- the Eastern Shore!"

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