25 October 2006

on eating in new york

I did something yesterday that I knew was a mistake from the beginning, but I did it anyway. You know how sometimes you just know? I knew. I was hungry, you see, and so I went to find food. I didn't have very much money, only the quarters in my pocket. I needed something cheap. I needed something filling. When I got to the counter, I saw a bagel covered with tomato sauce and cheese. The thing about a bagel pizza in a bad deli is that you'd know that it will not taste good. You know that the bagel will end up soggy, the tomato sauce will have no flavor, and the cheese is probably bland as well. And yet. And yet, there it is, and cheese and carbohydrates sound so good when you are so hungry. So you get the bagel pizza, and it only costs $1.50, and the woman behind the counter heats it up under a little broiler, and which she finally gives it to you, after far too long a time, the cheese is not yet melted and the whole thing is barely warm. By this time, you know that it is a mistake, but it's too late because you've already paid your $1.50, and so you microwave the thing and it comes out soggy but the cheese is melted, and you eat part of it, cringing the entire time. And you realize that you would've been better off just staying hungry. Waste of $1.50.

In another food-related anecdote, I have been walking past a new café every day. Not many new cafés, the same new café. Bizarrely, I hate going into new restaurants. I get paranoid that this restaurant is not intended for the likes of me. This paranoia is exacerbated in New York, where many of the restaurants actually ARE not for the likes of me. They are for people who know how to wear strappy sandals and carry designer bags. Okay, there are actually very few places that would flat-out reject me, especially near where I live. But there are a few, and I worry each time I go into a new restaurant that this one is one of those. (I worry the same thing when I go to buy my shampoo, which I buy at one of those places that probably wouldn't welcome me if it weren’t for the fact that I am spending money there.) Anyway, I figured that a coffee shop probably couldn't reject me, so I faced my fear and I went in and faced it even more bluntly. I asked the baristas if they had wireless Internet, and then I asked them if they were the sort of café that would get upset if I sat and studied for a long time. And then my paranoia of rejection in restaurants was completely overturned, because what they said was, “All we want are customers! We don't care what you do!” Apparently a new café is just as insecure as I am.

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