By Gena Oppenheim (Writer)
"Besides his sister...Mr. Koch is survived by New York itself" So read the obituary of former Mayor Ed Koch in last Friday´s New York Times. Although I disagreed with much of his politics, Mr. Koch occupied a special place in my memories of growing up in Greenwich Village. The curmudgeonly former mayor was the perfect cast member of an ensemble of locals that included the folk singers by the Washington Square park fountain (who refused to believe that guitars were meant to be anything but acoustic) and the man who fed French pastries to pigeons (in a pinch pizza would do, but only Rays.)
Despite seeing him constantly at the bank or supermarket, I can remember one interaction where we spoke. I was twelve or so and getting pizza at The Pizza Box (go there, now.) As a friend and I were sitting down to eat, Mayor Koch walked in. My pal, oblivious to who he was, kept talking about the latest episode of 90210, but I smiled as if to say "I´m only twelve but I totally follow local politics." He smiled back and asked me what my favorite kind of pizza was. When I pointed to my Sicilian slice, he ordered the same. He got his pizza to go, but before they put it in the bag he took a big bite and exclaimed, "Can´t beat the flavor of New York." I couldn´t have said it better myself.
GENA OPPENHEIM Gena is a fourth generation New Yorker who teaches second-grade. She is a graduate of Barnard College, and received her MFA from NYU Tisch's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. http://twitter.com/#!/genabeans