Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lunch With Zelda

It’s a beautiful day. Let’s walk to the WOW Deli to endure Perpetually In The Way Syndrome. I caught this disease in Tashkent—no wait; it all started in New York in my friend Roy’s father’s store in the East Village, then it metastasized in Tashkent. In the bazaars.

The syndrome has to do with ALWAYS being in the wrong spot in a tight crowded space. And because I am temporarily DEAF in one ear, people get awfully grumpy because they have clearly been standing behind me for awhile saying, “Are you in line?” I am now apparently one of those vile clueless people who is OBLIVIOUS to the Deli Line Needs of others. This, for me, is mortifying.

I order my sandwich—chicken salad on a SPINACH wrap—because I am the healthiest, most conscientious lunch eater in the universe. Take notes.

I stand and wait for my sandwich, switching places in the tight joint about 16 times because people keep butterfly tapping me and saying—with that unmistakable irritation—ARE YOU IN LINE (bitch) ?

I stand by the condiments and Curly Hair Tank Top with Elvis’s Glasses (we’re twins!) is depositing every single solitary condiment into the gigantic sandwich box order she has. I shift to allow her the ketchup, then she reaches for the little sugars. I then move to the soda counter and carefully place myself at the coffee portion of the counter, because people will be going for sodas. I am, therefore, a bastion of considerateness because I am standing in front of HOT beverages no one would want on such a beautiful day. Except Bald Khaki Man with Stubble and Blotchy Tan.

So I move to the OTHER side of the condiment table and have awkward interchange with Kennedy Family Adonis Boy. Please stop checking out Kennedy Family Adonis Boy RIGHT NOW before he looks at you in horror and says something like, “You’re old enough to be my really old sister!”

Intently focus on sandwich making people, which naturally thwarts the entire process. Staring at the sandwich maker line is akin to watching a kettle try to boil. It guarantees YOUR SANDWICH WILL NEVER BE MADE. The choices: surreptitiously check out Kennedy Adonis in white shirt, undershirt and slightly vintage-esque brown pants, or stare at Sandwich Rockettes and delay entire lunch gratification process. The Kennedy Family Adonis wins the award for today.

Khaki Man gets his lunch, then “Pam,” “Jane,” “Mike!” Fresh piled meats on meats. The club sandwich is clearly the race track fave for today. Then slowly, like a tortoise in a fable, the wizened cashier leaves his post and pulls out—a green spinach sphere. My sandwich is in production. He calls my name. Mr. Kennedy Adonis and I are introduced, after a fashion. I walk past him. Retrieve my sandwich. Walk the thin gauntlet of booths out into the sun.


Cynicism is another word for reality

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