Sunday, March 12, 2006

One of the most infuriating aspects of Manhattan life is a little store called Duane Reade. It's the most ubiquitous drugstore in the city, and is like Starbucks in that you can find one on almost every corner block. Sure, there are the random Eckerd's, CVSs etc., but Duane Reade is just more convenient because they are literally everywhere. I try to avoid this place at all costs, but usually end up there once a week to stock up on the necessities. Not only are the cashiers slower-moving than any 90-year-old yenta, but they are usually thick as posts and seem to like to keep people waiting. Also, their favorite sentence is, "Do you have a club card?" Yes, I fucking have a goddamned club card, but is it worth me taking off my gloves, sifting through my purse and presenting it to you in the hopes that I MAY save $.10 on an item that is specially discounted? I don't think so. Anywho, each time I go into Duane Reade, not only do I spend more money than I need to be spending on toothpaste, deordorant, etc. but I always end up waiting on line for at least 10 minutes, and usually, I am laden with shopping bags from other stores that I have hit before DR. So I'm always standing there in line, under the unforgiving flourescent lights, feeling woozy and about to pass out from the combination of heat, the weight of my shopping bags and the general level of annoyance that a trip to Duane Reade engenders. By the time I get up to the register, I'm just ready to pay and be on my merry way. I do not, therefore, wish to chit chat with the cashier. So yesterday, weighed down with bags from Gourmet Garage, leg hurting, in a hurry to get home, I'm unprepared for the cashier's question. I step up to the register with various sundries, among them, a bag of hard cat food and a container of soft dog food. Yes, Wally is now enjoying the mix of high and low cultures.

"So how do your dog and your cat get along?" the cashier asks me innocently.

It takes a moment for her question to register, a long, protacted moment during which I am looking at her like she's ET's long , lost, stoned cousin. Oh, right, I think. The Duane Reade cashier is not privy to my fucked-up brand of rodent repelling. She actually thinks I'm sane and have two different species of pet, as opposed to one, very confused dog with cat breath.

"Oh, good," I reply. "They get along well." I flush crimson and bolt the hell out of there. Relating the story later to my neighbor Heather, we're cracking up, as the very same thing happened to her in Gristede's. Except that she was busted buying a huge bag of cat food by an old friend who knew that she had only a dog. "Oh," the friend had remarked, "did you get a cat?"

"Oh, yes, I got a cat. Siamese, she's very sweet. Nice seeing you..."

Less than three weeks left in the big apple. The days will be filled with physical therapy, eating, drinking, packing, talking on the phone, saying tearful good-byes and generally sucking as much marrow out of the city as I can whilst hobbling around like a cripple, wearing, thank you very much, Mizuno sneakers. Apparently, I not only have "soft tissue" damage, but tendonitis and iliotibial band syndrome (ITB) or "runner's knee." Looooovely. The prescription? Twice weekly physical therapy plus two hours of prescribed stretching per day. Oh, yeah, sexy.