Friday, April 1, 2011
To secure your heart’s desire, where wouldn’t you go, what wouldn’t you do? Ask Shakespeare, the romantics, the impressionists, expressionists, the Beats, the Supremes.
Ain’t no mountain high enough, indeed. And no humiliation too great.
Pride? Who needs pride? Can you pare pride into long thin slices and stack it on sourdough? Pride is a poor cold substitute when it's late at night and all you want is a grilled cheese.
Which is why I’ve come crawling back to my Italian grocer. All four feet ten inches of him. My powder keg, my Mussolini of the Mortadella. My bad boy of the deli counter who has found an outlet for 80 years of broken dreams, rage, and hostility: Me.
Our relationship defies reason, sense, boundaries.
“Can I have…”
“No, you wait. I’ve gotta other customers, ya know.”
“But no one is here and …”
“No, you wait. I’ma busy.”
His is a gruff charm, a tough love. The way, when I’m in a line of 10, he passes out his sample slices of cheese heaven to everyone but me. And when it’s my turn in line, he stomps away mumbling something about checking his inventory.
Yes, he’s far from perfect and I’m not wearing rose colored glasses. I have no illusions about his wizened olives and fatty bologna. But I don’t think I can live without the aged Provolone.
Call the whole thing an obsession at this point. Like a dog who returns to the master who kicks him. Yesterday, a guy split his Genoa salami sample slice with me while we waited in line. He said it was the grocer’s 60th anniversary this month.
“So,” I said brightly when it was my turn. “Happy 60th!"
“You wait. I gotta check something out back.”
I've tried to quit him. I've tried to find more wholesome antipasti relationships. The heart wants what the heart wants.