Monday, August 28, 2006

picking up dinner

I'm not much of a cook. It's not that I can't, it's that I don't. I hate deciding what everyone else wants to eat. We have vastly different taste buds in this family. But I do love to go to the grocery store. I love the mix and diversity - the easy kindness and banter with strangers. I like how one pretty much journies through the aisles with the same strangers, arriving at checkout simultaneously. Recently I entered Central Market and noticed an older guy, bald, wearing shorts, a certain jaunt in his step, reminding me of my Dad. I kept glancing and smiling as we rounded from the veggies, past the meat, to the cheese. Stopping in front of the Monterey Jack, he holds up a block of bright pink cheese and says, "Would you eat that?" "Hmm, maybe," I replied. But added, "I keep smiling at you because you remind me of my dad" (which reminds me of a completely different scenario recently. My L.A. cousin brought a cute little portable dvd player to lunch to show us some past xmas films. When my father entered the frame, my sister gave the image the finger and uttered, 'Fuck you!' I was really surprised by the venom. Asking her about it she said simply, "He was cruel.")

But this guy said, "Do you find me attractive?" I must have laughed and said, "well, yes, but you remind me of my dad!" He pushed me farther. "He was a good looking guy!" And the stranger hugged me. And it cracked me up. I'm not much of a meat eater but I tend to particularly love bantering with the butchers as well. Asking their advice, getting their recipes. Did in NYC for years at the Jefferson Market, now do here too in Texas.

I shop like the NYC single girl I was 25 years ago. Daily, in small amounts, never planning ahead. I drift around the aisles digging on the couples, and the singles, young and old, imagining their lives. It's a melting pot that makes sense to me. Different stores, different times, different vibes. Recently I was at the Central Market and it was full of newborns. I like to hit the 24 hour HEB after midnight. I move through in a fog and full of wonder.

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