It’s that time of year again. I can basically assume that on any given day I will have at least one child at home, suffering from an illness real, imagined, or possibly even faked. Today I have two at home. Two is better than one. Two means I have time to write and don’t have to be held hostage to endless rounds of Uno, nor do I have to keep anyone company watching some of the most mindless television in broadcast history.
Still, the constant stream of pestilence is disheartening, and it’s only November. When I need a pick me up, there is one thing I know for sure that I should not do – VISIT MY LOCAL SUPERMARKET.
People who do not live in my neighborhood, please bear with me.
I know I have already written about my local A&P, the only local supermarket and one of the dingiest, most depressing places in the NY metropolitan area. I know I have already said that the produce looks like it was all grown in a Bronx toilet bowl, which at least makes it local. But you see, recently A&P, possibly done in by its own ineptitude and shittiness, went under.
Hurrah! Cheers throughout the neighborhood! What would take its place? A Whole Foods? A Trader Joes? Come on, say it – dare we even dream of a FAIRWAY?
In such an amenity-deprived area, the possibilites were dizzying. Speculation ran amok.
And then reality dealt us a swift kick in the backside.
KEY FOODS. Second, possibly only to A&P in its dinginess and shittiness. That’s right, we were losing crap, only to have it replaced by another healthy serving of crap.
We did harbor a secret spark of hope. Maybe the Key Foods would be spiffy. Sure, it wasn’t Trader Joes. For that, we still have to drive 20 minutes. But maybe, just maybe, we’d be rewarded for all our suffering. I held out for a while. Then I went in.
True, there was no new sign. Only a shoddy Key Foods banner scotch-taped over the old A&P sign. It did not bode well. But when I went in I realized that maybe the Key Foods served a purpose after all. Maybe all this dinge was not for nothing.
During my college years, and in the years shortly after, many of my friends spent time in what is now the Former Soviet Union. They did outreach, education, and humanitarian work. I always felt like I missed out by not going. I always felt like it was an opportunity lost. But alas, all I have to do now, is get myself to my local Key Foods and life in the crumbling Soviet Bloc is at my fingertips. Ditto for the Peace Corps. Man, I wish I’d done that. But I can’t imagine anywhere in Uganda as shitty as this place.
One of each item is on the shelf. It is dusty and overpriced and it is never the item you are looking for. When you buy this item, no other items like it remain. When you buy it, you have bought the entire inventory. I can’t even begin to describe the produce or how little of it there is. I bought the only avocado in the store. I am pretty sure it was pulled off a tree in the late 1990’s. At this point, a Bronx toilet bowl would be an upgrade. Needless to say, when you have filled your malformed, non-functioning shopping cart with all sorts of things you really don’t want to bring into your home, be prepared to wait on Soviet era lines. Not breadlines per se, but pretty close. You get the full FSU tourist experience, and you don’t need a passport.
Hell, you don’t even need to pay a toll crossing a crumbling bridge.
Thank you Key Foods. Thank you for keeping it real, or at least Soviet-era real.