Toto We’re Not in New Hampshire Anymore

 

February 14, 2013

There really is weather here in Florida. I have seen nothing but blue skies and sunshine since arriving in the tropics two weeks ago but Valentine’s Day was gray and rainy and the late afternoon brought torrential downpours. Sandy decided it was a good day to run errands.

Our first stop was the Apple Store at the mall in Boca Raton. We couldn’t believe the traffic. Valentine’s Day is the new Christmas in Boca. For several miles bumper-to-bumper traffic slowly made its way to the mall. The parking lot was a horror show. Several people said the hell with it and just grabbed illegal spaces on the medians or fire lanes. Sandy valet parked. This was the first time I’d ever seen valet parking at a shopping mall and must admit it seems rather decadent.

We joined the sea of people shopping in the gigantic mall with six flagship department stores and 220 other shopping emporiums and numerous restaurants. It was one o’clock on a Thursday afternoon. Does anyone around here work? I thought of my former colleagues working in their cubicles and recalled how many times my mind wondered  to  what other people were doing during their day. Well, here in South Florida they were shopping and  doing lunch. Couples strolled through the mall holding hands on a Hallmark holiday. The water in the fountains flowed pink.

Dozens of people were crowded into the Apple store. Sandy had made a reservation and took her place at one of the tables. After waiting ten minutes, a crazy old lady with frizzy gray hair sticking up everywhere started shouting, “Why can’t you set my password? Why can’t you set my password?” The store clerk politely replied, “I’m sorry Ma’am, I’m not allowed to help you with that.”

“Oh good God. Here, I can do it,” Sandy said impatiently. She got up and helped the frazzled woman. Sandy was frazzled too and decided we were going to “blow this joint” and get a drink and some lunch. We headed to the bar at the Grand Lux Cafe and shared a chicken quesadilla.

Macy’s was having a President’s Day sale so we checked that out. No wonder the mall was so crowded, there were two major holidays this week. We should have never left the house. Riding in front of us on the trip up the escalator to the second floor was a beautiful blond woman in her early thirties wearing skinny jeans and high heels. She had two angelic little blonde boys with her, one in a stroller and the other on foot.

Sandy bought expensive lotions and I found a shirt on sale that I quickly grabbed without even trying it on. At the cash register, a frantic search was taking place. Shopping bags were strewn across the floor and two women were tearing madly through them while two other women dumped the contents of their purses onto the counter. The beautiful blonde mother from the elevator was in front of me in line.

One of the older women said, “My Burberry wallet is missing. I had it just a minute ago when I paid for my blouse.” One of the cashiers started searching through the clothes that were piled on the counter while the other cashier said, “I’ll call the manager.”

In a Russian accent, the young mother nervously said, “Please. I am in a hurry.” The cashier put the phone down and rang up her purchases. She paid with cash then quickly disappeared. Cashier Number One was now helping the women look through their shopping bags while Cashier Number Two seemed to have forgotten about calling the manager and rang up my purchase instead. We left the store and I told Sandy I thought the attractive blond mother might have stolen the Burberry wallet.

“Absolutely,” she agreed. “Shit like that happens all the time in South Florida. You’ve got to watch out at Publix. Kids try to scam you by offering you a used gift card for cash. They’re rehab kids, down here to dry out, and their parents send them grocery cards which they try to trade for cash to buy drugs.”

We decided we’d come back to the mall someday with to-go cocktails, and take photos and people watch while I take notes for future blogs.

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The day ended on a high note when I visited The Boys for the first time. The Boys is an amazing grocery store in Delray. If you have been to the food stores in New York on the Upper West Side, this is Zabars on steroids. It is easy to drive by the place. The storefront itself is bare and looks like an abandoned building except for the jam-packed parking lot. Sandy hates shopping here because of the crowds but the minute I stepped inside I was in love with The Boys. People from all walks of life are here- yentas, women in burkas, all speaking English, Spanish, Yiddish, and Russian. The produce is beautiful, the cheeses amazing. I was drooling over the fish and meat selections. There are toy trains running around the store along the top of the walls and a male and female pirate swing above the pasta aisle, which would be the best way to get through the crowded aisles.

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I told Sandy we are never shopping in Publix again and I will help her navigate the crowds. We bought numerous things including a custard pie topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and blackberries for a Valentine dinner we planned to cook that night for Sandy’s husband Michael along with veal marsala, pasta, and an appetizer of smoked trout spread, cheese, and crackers.

Waiting in the checkout line, we let an older Hispanic man get in front of us as he was only purchasing a bottle of wine. Everyone was laughing and talking to each other. A woman asked Sandy if she was the end of the line. Sandy replied, “No, it’s way back there. We’ve been waiting so long, he and I have gotten engaged.” She pointed to the Hispanic man who laughed shyly.

 

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