Guilty Pleasures

We all have things that we’re not quick to admit we enjoy. In I happen to have quite a few, and if you won’t judge me, I’ll share them with you now. 

1. “Moves Like Jagger.” That’s right, I said it. I would never actively do a YouTube search for the song, but when it comes on at the grocery store by my apartment (and it’s always on at the grocery store by my apartment), I sing along. And I dance. Am I proud of this? No. Do I know all the words? Yeah. I’m pretty sure I do. 

2. Parents trying to curb their children’s crying. I’m not referring to babies who cry relentlessly on the train from Harlem to Crown Heights. Those are the worst and should be given up. No, I’m talking about those special little ones who cry when, say, they drop a toy or can’t find their cookie. When they lose that one simple pleasure, their worlds fall apart. All the while I sit there thinking, it’s on your lap! You’re cookie is on your lap! Meanwhile, the baby throws a full on kanipshin, and Mom panics. Shhh, it’s ok Bella. We’ll get a new cookie! This child knows about the pains of life. She just wants her chewy oatmeal cookie, and until she gets it, she will crumble. When Mom (who is now sweating and embarrassed) finds a cookie for the kid, the child generally shuts up immediately, eating the cookie with joy. I love it. You go kid!

Image

3. Other people’s parents. Whenever someone tells me their parents are coming, do I want to meet them, I think no and gross, why? The prospect of meeting other parents seems awful. Feigning interest in everything they say, maintaining a smile, and refraining from using coarse language. Exhausting. But then, there the parents are, and oh my goodness, they want to buy lunch for everyone! I love lunch. Then, there we all are eating lunch, and the mom is complimenting my earrings, and I can’t remember why I didn’t want to be here. They’ll ask me what I do, what I studied in school, and they’ll find me impossibly interesting, because I am not their own child. The dad will tell an embarrassing story, or start singing, or get severe indigestion, and the owner of the parents will feel terribly uncomfortable and ask for the check, please. Other people’s parents are great. 

4. Doritos. THEY ARE SO GOOD. I have an unhealthy affection for fake powdered cheese. Much like “Moves Like Jagger,” I’m not going to seek out a bag of the nacho flavored chips. I know they’re bad for me, fatty, high in calories. If I have one bite, everyone will know that I ate them for the next two days, thanks to their potent and distinct aroma. But if I’m at a party and happen upon a bowl of Doritos, it’s over. I’ll spend the rest of the party figuring out ways to circle back to the table for “just one more.” And yes, I do attend really fancy parties. 

That’s just a short list of the things I always forget I like. You probably think a little less of me now, and that’s fine. I don’t need to try to control you. I just hope that the next time you find yourself singing along to the Black Eyed Peas or eating Taco Bell you realize who you really are. 

Stairs

Image

Has anything ever been worse in the history of time and things?

Last Friday, I made one of several weekly trips to Target. My exit,  however, was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at Atlantic Center. It was nothing short of tragic. As I walked out of the store, whole grain Goldfish in tow, I found myself in the middle of a large and stagnant crowd. What was happening? Had an elderly person fallen? Was Mrs. Field’s giving out sample upstairs? And then I saw what was going on: the escalator had stopped working.

The late, great Mitch Hedberg one said, “an escalator can never break, it can only become stairs.” If only the patrons at Atlantic Center were so wise. It is hard to describe the chaos and terror that filled filled the second level of the mall that day, but I liken it to the tragedy of the Titanic.

Old people didn’t know what to do. How would they get to the first level? Were they expected to walk down the escalator? Never. Mother’s attempted to gather their children. Oh no. One was missing. Tyrell! Tyrell! The boat had cracked in half. 

I found myself towards the back of a group of women and children. I was strong and knew I’d survive. Babies cried, and this made me anxious. How long would it be before I even stepped onto the “stairs?” Would it be quicker to just walk through Target, out and around?” Should I go to Marshall’s while I’m here? My heart pounded in my chest. I wished there was a zip line.

Finally, I stepped foot onto what once so necessarily served as an escalator. I could have completed a patchwork quilt quicker than it took me to get to the bottom. The problem was the diversity of the crowd. Normally, I’m all for diversity. But this was despicable. There were people with canes, women holding babies, fat men on cell phones. It didn’t make any sense. There would be no “walking past the other person,” as I like to do when I’m in a hurry. Everyone was “the other person.” And they were all the slowest. Never before had I wished to be surrounded by people just like me, but for a moment, I fantasized that there were 100 black girls with high buns and snack foods marching in unison down the escalator. Then I realized that was really creepy and made my way to the second step from the top.

It was a long walk to the bottom. People changed. Infants became toddlers. One person even learned Spanish. Finally I made it onto the floor. I’ve never been so glad to be on the first floor of Atlantic Center, equidistant from Victoria’s Secret and the Subway sandwich shop. 

I ran through the crowd, until I was out of the mall and in the transit terminal, and finally I was outside. Good thing, I thought as I crossed the street, it wasn’t the up escalator that was broken. I might still be there now. 

Helping Grandmama

"What does that one say? How much does it cost? What about that..."

Earlier today, I was at the grocery store across the street from my apartment. I was perusing the produce section, when an old woman pushing an old woman cart approached me. She was about 5 feet tall and holding plastic produce bags.

“Excuse me, baby. Can you open these bags for Grandmama?”

I had no choice but to laugh. Sure, I could help this elder-woman with her bags, but by calling her my “Grandmama” I felt totally obligated. How rude it would have been to just leave my Grandmama hanging!

I look forward to the day when I can approach someone, offer my relation to them, and request something of said person. This works much better when you’re of a certain age, I’d imagine. Because, let’s face it, when you’re old, you can do pretty much whatever you want (Wear socks with sandals, be racist. It’s all fair game. You’re old.)

But I’m not opposed to trying out this woman’s tactic now. Maybe I’ll go to a bar one night, turn to the guy next to me, pointing to my empty glass and say, “I’m running a little dry. Want to get me a refill, cuz?” Or perhaps I’ll go out to eat one night and say, “How’s about a complimentary appe-teaser, step sis?” to my TGI Friday’s waitress. I would really enjoy being able to turn to a crying baby on a crowded subway and say, “Shhhhh! Please be quiet for Mommy, Jackson. Or else no dinner for you.”

Anyway, I offered to help Grandmama open her bags, although my dexterity proved to be weak. The two of us stood there fumbling with the plastic bags for about two minutes before I finally got one open. VICTORY! I started to struggle with the second, when a man of about 50 made his way over.

“Let me handle that ladies,” he said licking his finger. We were both totally grossed out. “Licking your fingers first is the trick,” he said handing the bag, now doused with his spit, to the old woman.

“Thank you,” she said, in a way that suggested she meant to replace “thank” with another word. Then she turned to me. “And thank you, baby. Thank you for your time.”

That made me feel like a real loser.

I imagine that woman spent the rest of her day in that store (she had made little progress by the time I left) asking youngsters–granchildren–to get things from high shelves and read labels for her. If not, she’s playing the game all wrong.