Inhuman Swill : Shopping

Mixed signals

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So Laura and I met up after work down in Wicker Park, so we could each buy some jeans at the Levi's Store. Sadly, we left the store jeanless. (Well, I did still have on the ones I wore in.) I should have remembered this, but the Levi's Store only stocks sizes suitable for pipe-cleaner people, because of course there is no such thing as a tubby hipster.

The scales were somewhat balanced, though, by:

  • the man who crossed the street while Laura was waiting for me in front of the store to tell her how strikingly beautiful she was and how lucky her husband was.
  • the hostess at Piece Brewery and Pizzeria who carded us both.
  • the waitress who told me how cool my glasses were.
  • the drunk who apologetically addressed me as "young man" after not bumping into me (though he seemed convinced he had).
So all in all, last night was a push. And there was pizza and beer.

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"Those are HUGE!"

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So, on the way home from the art fair yesterday, Laura and I stopped at our local Trader Joe's to pick up a few necessities. The store has recently been remodeled, and everything's been moved around. We couldn't find the bread aisle, so when we rounded a corner and saw a couple of young men in Trader Joe's vests chatting, we stopped and asked them for directions.

Laura's arms were folded. Suddenly one of the guys pointed toward her chest and exclaimed, "Those are huge!"

All of stared at him in confusion, including the guy's buddy. I couldn't for the life of me imagine what he was talking about.

"Your bracelets?" the guy said. "You know."

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Analog Joe's

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Eight years ago, an old and dear family friend gave Laura and I two $50 gift certificates to Trader Joe's as a wedding present. We were delighted with the gift, having heard rumors of the legendarily magical contents of that high-end grocery chain, but we were somewhat handicapped having no access to an outlet in New York City. (This, children, was back in the days before Trader Joe's came to Manhattan, though I hear tell it's no easier to shop there now than it was before the locations opened.) The gift certificates went into the bottom of a drawer and were, for the most part, forgotten.

Three moves later, with all the jumbling of one's stuff that entails, we live on Chicago's North Side, and Trader Joe's is a frequent shopping destination. In particular, it's about the only place where we buy coffee beans. I make my own Bilmo Blend by grinding together the Trader Joe's House Blend and Trader Joe's Bay Blend in equal proportions. In any event, Laura dug up the gift certificates a few days ago in the course of looking for something else. There was no expiration date, so I took one to our local store this morning and filled my basket.

When I presented my gift certificate at checkout, my cashier was good-naturedly stymied. So was the bagger, who had been working there much longer. "I only know the kind you can swipe," the cashier said. "I don't know what to do with an analog giftcard."

In the end, it took three Trader Joe's employees to figure out how to deal with a gift certificate dated 2001. The nice thing was that they treated it as a challenging puzzle, not an analog annoyance. And I ended up forking over a mere $1.96 for my basket of groceries.

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This is not a lament—it's a honest question. Where are they? Which ones do you know that I don't?

A friend wrote to ask me what shops in Manhattan have a good large selection of new SF. I had to cop out and tell her the Barnes & Noble at Union Square. For independents, I said I know that St. Mark's Bookshop usually has a decent and interesting if not huge selection of SF. I had to resist the temptation to go on at length about all the great shops that have met their demise here in the past decade, or that have pretty much abandoned the goal of keeping a good supply of SF in stock. (Forbidden Planet, I'm talking to you!)

So, where do you go for SF in book form in Manhattan?

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

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William Shunn

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