I’m waiting in line at the health food store as the Hippie Matron in front of me tortures the guy behind the counter.
“Can I have a sample of the wheat grass juice with ginger?” she asks
“I’m sorry,” the counterman replies, “But I can’t give out samples right now.”
“Miss, there’s like ten people in line behind you.”
I’ve been waiting behind this lady for several minutes. She’s asked a dozen questions about tofu, made several special requests, and has, in general, been a royal bee jelly pain in the ass.
“Well I’m a customer and I want a sample,” Hippie Matron demands, using that artificially calm but passive aggressive tone nuts and twiggers seem to fancy.
“I’m sorry,” the counterman says, irritation creeping into his voice, “Maybe when we’re not busy.”
“I’m so disappointed,” Hippie Matron says, clutching her hemp purse.
I roll my eyes and start humming the tune to Jeopardy.
Looking over her shoulder Hippie Matron says, “I don’t think I like the energy I’m feeling around here.”
I reply by telepathing some “hurry the fuck up” energy into the chakra at the base of her spine.
The woman stares the counterman with a smug “the customer is always right” expression on her face.
“Sorry Miss,” the man says politely, gazing at her with the organic version of the thousand yard stare.
The woman grabs her hummus wraps and tofu and storms off.
“Next!” the counterman says.
“Hi,” I say, “I’d like a tuna wrap and a quarter pound of the Quinoa Bean Salad.”
As the man wraps up my food I make conversation.
“Man, you have some fun customers around here.”
“Tell me about it,” the guy grunts.
“And I thought my customers were bad.”
“Where do you work?” the guy asks.
“I work at the Bistro over on (TOP SECRET)”
“Oh yeah,” the guy says, “That’s a nice place.”
“And we both have crazy customers.”
“Soy people,” he snorts.
I laugh out loud. “I have Atkins red meaters. You have soy people.”
“Can’t get away from them can we?”
“No,” the guy says, handing me my food, “We can’t.”
“Well try and have a good day,” I say.
Now, at this point, you’re wondering what I, the cigar smoking martini swilling waiter, am doing shopping in a health food store.
The answer? High cholesterol.
I had my annual physical a few months ago. My lipid count was off the scale. How bad? My roommate’s total cholesterol is 150. My BAD cholesterol’s higher than that. So my doc prescribed my first official middle age medication and told me to eat better. Much better. Since I don’t want to end up face down dead in my tiramisu I’m heeding his advice.
But there’s only so much bland oatmeal, tuna, and plain grilled chicken you can eat before your taste buds end up in a straight jacket. The health food store is close to my job and whips up a daily assortment of tasty nutritious takeout food. I’ve been a regular for the past few weeks. The store is very well run and the knowledgeable staff has helped me make some good choices. I like this place.
And no, the irony of shopping in a nuts and twigs store is not lost on me.
I grab an organically farmed apple and some low fat yogurt and head over to the register. A pretty girl wearing a babushka is ringing the customers up. I notice she’s not wearing any make up. To my chagrin, Hippie Matron is in front of me again. She’s not wearing make up either. She should.
“Is all your produce from local farms?” Hippie Matron asks Babushka Girl.
“I don’t know Miss,” Babushka replies, “Some of it is.”
“Well I only buy from local growers.”
I get in line behind Hippie Matron and re-telepath some negative energy into her body. There must be something to all that chakra stuff because she turns around and looks at me.
Hippie Matron shakes her head and continues peppering the register girl with ridiculous questions.
I wait patiently and look around. You know, this may be a health food store but many of the customers look pasty, thin, and weak – the very opposite of healthy. Some of them look like they’re five minutes from fertilizing one of those local organic farms.
I contrast the Soy People with the sleek carnivorous Yuppies who patronize my Bistro. In my little free associative rumination I compare them to Hitler and Stalin. Ideologically one guy was on the right and the other was on the left. But both men ended up dragging their people to the same hellish place. Sociopathic Darwinism versus dyspeptic utopianism. Ugh. It’s all the same shit in the end.
That, of course, is terribly unfair. There are nice Soy People just like there’s nice Yuppies. But I can’t help but notice how entitlement and self righteous certitude afflicts both groups.
Or maybe I’m just having a bad day.
Finally I move to the front of the line. I smile at Babushka Girl. She smiles back.
“That lady was a character,” I whisper conspiratorially.
Babushka Girl rolls her eyes in solidarity.
“Soy People!” I whisper.
The girl stifles a laugh and rings up my food.
I feel for Babushka. Yuppies I understand. But if I had to work with Soy People I’d end up running naked through the streets, screaming the words immortalized by Charlton Heston,
“SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!”
Because folks, whether you’re Yuppie or Soy, Al Qaedaesque extremism in either direction will drag us to the same gloomy place. And if you don’t know what Soylent Green is, don’t worry.