The mini-half fridge in my apartment has two kinds of water staring me in the face, bubbly and flat and only the wilted cilantro wedged between the hand-pressed organic mustard seed mustard and the very un-organic high in cholesterol Best Foods brand mayo in its squeezable tube resemble anything edible. The cantaloupe has been there for like what? Three weeks? Hovering in a depreciating shell and really do I think that what’s inside is going to be any different than what’s growing on the bottom of it in light shades of blue?
In the apartment upstairs from me they’re drilling a hole in the floor with an immense auger, so for now to stay here and think about what to eat is a futile proposition. But none the less I am hungry and there are only two places in this neighborhood to buy groceries – Jack’s Liquors or Whole Foods. Now Jack’s, for a liquor/porn store and only a mere half block away, has an amazing amount of really strange dusty canned goods and an un-amazing mixture of discount two for a dollar cookies, puffy loafs of generic white bread, off brand toilet paper and those suspect triangle “deli sandwiches” that Ahmed’s got tucked away neat in their little wedge shaped packages behind a refrigerated display case. This veritable plethora of culinary delights pales in comparison to the two shining racks of porno magazines and half priced “Adult” videos that take up the front left-hand side of the store’s space. There is a small badly printed sign proclaiming this part of the store off limits to those that are not 18 years of age or older and then two or three larger ones stating that there will be no overt fondling of any of these items unless you absolutely intend to buy them! In the back of the store below the giant concave anti-pilfering mirror are the real necessities – the beer and wine, while behind the checkout counter the various sized bottles of hard liquor sit awaiting purchase. Thus have I mentally toured Jack’s before even going over there and came up with the same conclusion as always – that there is nothing to eat there unless one is so inebriated that booze or pornography no longer holds sway and any thought of avoiding what does indeed keep these foods from rotting after years of sitting on these shelves is a dietary concept that one doesn’t adhere to.
As an alternative there is, of course, Whole Foods, an actual organic grocery market chain store that just put down roots not a block and a half away from my apartment building. Yet in substance and appearance it is another world apart from Jack’s. There are no racks of magazines with naked women shoving their breasts together as they stare out at you nor are there any microwave and serve frozen chiliburgers to be found. However, there are many organic or at least somewhat humanly processed food stuffs from throughout the world and a rather large take-out/self-serve/salad-bar area, while the rest of the store has its fresh vegetable, meat and cheese sections. There is quite the au courant bakery as well. And right about this time you might be asking just why anyone would waste their energy going to Jack’s if this seemingly tempting wholesome emporium were available instead?
And I think I can answer that sorta.
If it’s real early in the morning or after nine at night then Jack’s be it as far as stores for this neighborhood and if you’re a bit down on your luck and a tad short on funds then Ahmed will put it on the tab until the end of the week and besides as overpriced as he is Ahmed’s a local. He lives upstairs from his store and from what I can see all he does is work and sleep and scream at the Crackheads while waving a baseball bat! Now none of the employees over at Whole Foods even lives in the neighborhood and besides all the people who work at Whole Foods, except of course this one girl with the short black hair who sorta smiled at me once with this lopsided smile of hers… But anyway, all the stockers, the fishmongers, the cheese slingers and even the cashiers all look like they just finished shooting dope in the bathroom and afterwards either were busy piercing each other’s bodies with the used hypodermic needle or tattooing one another with the same needle dipped in organic day-glo goo! Not one of them appears destined to be a professional clerk in the same sense that those guys who bag your groceries at the mega-markets in the suburbs do. Not that I’d wish that kinda existence on my worst enemy and really I got nothing against junkies – hell I was one for ever and ever! But at least I had the decency to not touch food stuff and be a parasite for a living while I was one! I mean what happened to the days when any self-respecting junkie committed petty crimes for their daily fix by shoplifting in places like Whole Foods – not working in one!
Then again it’s not like Ahmed over at Jack’s actually washes his hands after he pees and then prepares you a tasty Cup-O-Noodles™ in the store’s seldom cleaned and much abused microwave. But at least I know that he’s there exploiting the neighborhood with his over priced transfat saturated garbage and makes no pretense about doing it. Hell for all I know he’s selling crack to the kids from the elementary school around the corner!
So I guess that my ire is somewhat misdirected and what I resent the most isn’t the slovenly Whole Food’s workers themselves but their complacent engrossment in this invasion of my neighborhood by the likes of these alternative lifestyle franchises with its “for the community/for your health” bullshit and all. Like how dare they come into this grimy repressed area and try and help us out by placing quality edible food within our grasp! And maybe the overly pierced youngsters behind the tofu counter just happen to remind me a little too much of myself at their age and ok, maybe I do need to take a look at that and stop blaming them for things that are beyond their ability to change. And so what that in my day tattoo scrawled junkies had scruples and boundaries as to what they’d allow themselves to be exploited with and that now these kids will just about do anything that bucks the old trends in order to survive.
Jesus! How could they be drilling for so long above me and not come through my ceiling yet? And I still haven’t had anything to eat though a double latte sounds just about right to get those digestive juices flowing. But don’t get me started on Starbucks vs. the little Russian guy’s espresso shop up on