From the archive
Date: Tuesday, September 03, 2002
When you live in Chinatown there are very few places to get white-people food. T&T Supermarket has some, a little, hell, a token amount, tucked between the Darlie (formerly Darkie) toothpaste and the shrimp chips. Sunrise market has some, in between the vat-o-tofu and the sambal oelek (overpriced) and when you get your bill it says something like “produce $1.23, chinese $4.25, english $1.10,” looks like a report card. You know, I’m sure there’s some PC-ite who’d be offended by the till receipts at the Sunrise, even if their change worked out right.
Anyway, you can get whitey foods at the Italian place on Main street, but apparently not if the guy there doesn’t like you. He won’t open the door. He doesn’t care for women, being…er…of the kind who doesn’t care for women, but like really, really doesn’t.
My friend Carinthia tried several times to get buzzed in, but he just ignored her until she had the bright idea of using my extra-cute friend David as a door decoy. He buzzed David in right quick, and Carinthia darted in before the door could close. She bought enough olive oil and feta that he wasn’t too sorry he’d let her in, even if she was a chick.
But he won’t let her back.
Anyway, mark II: I go to Benny’s Italian Market. And does Benny sell Italians, you ask? Smartass. Benny (and what appears to be his entire extended family, or at least old friends, old enough that they have broken through the politeness barrier and speak entirely in in-jokes) anyway, as I was saying, Benny sells fresh veggies that you never have to pick over because they are all good, cheeses and deli meats, imported foods like artichoke hearts and specialty stuff like blueberry juice and Aqua Libra. And lots of Italian foods. And eats plenty of it, too, by the look of him, not that anyone’s complaining.
So there I was today buying my greek salad fixins, as it is well known if you can’t get to a Greek shop (and you can’t, at least not between here and Kits) as I couldn’t, you are permitted to make your purchases at an Italian shop, as long as they don’t try to sell you any baklava. No, they can’t do the baklava: it’s something to do with a grocery treaty from the seventeen hundreds, I dunno. So that’s okay, as I was not today at least shopping for baklava, and when I do it is always at a Greek shop.
When Hostess comes out with Baklavettes you can bet your Scott Bakula I’ll be staying well away; that’s just asking for trouble.
So there I was, and beside me was an elderly Chinese gentleman with a cane who was having some difficulty doing his shopping. The young fellow who works there whose name I don’t know so I will call him Li’l Benny to differentiate him from Big Benny, was helping him with his lottery tickets. It’s ten million this week, which is not to be sneezed at or passed up because you got confused in the grocery store, so the old guy was being very careful and double-checking everything. And Li’l Benny was triple- and quadruple-checking, just for good measure. Finally they agreed on the number of tickets, the jackpot, and whether the old fellow needed a bigger bag (this required a consultation with the woman I imagine is Mrs. Big Benny) and the fellow left, slowly and with his cane leading the way.
Li’l Benny turned to Mrs. BB with a concerned look and concerned tone and said, “That man, he’s had a stroke, you know.”
She turned to look over her shoulder at the old man as he disappeared. Her brow furrowed. “I know, yeah, I know. That poor man.” And everyone in the store paused a second and looked after the old man.
Which was nice, you know?