The line at H&H Bagels this morning was out the door. People were still streaming down the street with Zabar’s and Fairways bags.
Yesterday, I had braved both the latter; Karen had gone to H&H.
Zabar’s meat line took me about twenty minutes of standing, after which I was able to tell a man of about 75 that I wanted a smoked turkey – $4.99 a pound…not bad – so he picked up a beige wall phone and hollored into the mouthpiece, “Jimmy! I need a smoked turkey!” He turned to me and lowered his eyes above his bifocals to indicate that my order was on its way.
Once I had the smoked turkey in the bag, it was home for drop off and then down to Modell’s at 42nd Street. Exiting the #1 train at Times Square, I entered the Tourist Amoeba that moves around Manhattan during the holidays like a drunk slug. Once in the store, I found a football for Bennett – a Wilson NFL style for juniors – and navy blue Under Armour shirts for all four of us. Like T.O. wears on the tv commercial. Team Freeman. I picked up Bennett some receiver gloves so he could do his best Randy Moss impersonation.
Then it was off to Fairway. (Fairway is a staple for fresh food on the Upper West Side.)
I should have known. It was Christmas Eve and they have some of the best food around and New Yorkers love food and you eat a lot of good food on Christmas.
In New York.
On the Upper West Side.
I made the dubious decision to use a shopping cart instead of a hand basket. It was like trying to navigate a Hummer around your bathroom. To make matters more challenging, the aisles are organized more like a labyrinth – you know, the walking mazes that are on the floors of monasteries and which you wander through as you meditate. Meditate for hours. For hours without much tangible result besides a deeper understanding of your soul and your ultimate destiny.
So I had been in a quandary somewhere after the produce aisle, where I picked up fresh sage and the most perfect green beans I had seen, and the bread aisle, where you line up – as it were – and order your baked good.
“Do you have any of the small fruit cheesecakes?” asked the woman in front of me.
“Okay. I guess I’ll get two of the large ones.”
I got a regular 10-inch cheesecake. Bennett has lately starting liking it, having tried it at school and enjoyed it. I had first tried it as a kid at Dave K’s house at Point O’ Woods. I had always thought it would be gross, having “cheese” in it and all. Bennett’s exact concern.
I couldn’t find cranberry relish and therefore, because I had a sinking feeling it was behind me by the time I got to the other side of the store, decided to skip it and get it later at Broadway Farm on 85th and Broadway, because turning the Hummer around would have been more pain than worth it. (Note to readers: do not seek cranberry relish at Broadway Farm; all they have is Ocean Spray whole berry and jellied.)
Checking out, I walked home listening to JoDee Messina on the iPod.
Once at home, we were chagrined to discover in my bags no beans, no potatoes, no onions and no bananas, a result of the crushing press of people all in Hummers trying to get around one 8×10-foot bathroom.
I went back today and described my predicament to the manager while holding replacement produce.
“Normally we have a book–” his associate had shown me five minutes earlier a black-and-white school notebook that contained all items left behind, and my bag was not in it, “–but we’re going to do it because, number one, today is Christmas and, number two, yesterday was nutso.”
I had added some Sarabeth’s Kitchen cranberry relish to my basket, and after shelling out $5.99 (a discount today only on the $7.49 Sarabeth’s), I was off and marching home, today to Phil Vassar.