Christmas Eve in New York City

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For the last few years, my first order of the day on Christmas Eve has been to shop for the food I will be cooking to celebrate the holiday. The unbridled childhood excitement of finding presents in hung stockings and under the tree has mellowed and transformed into allowing myself the luxury of shopping at one of the upscale food shops in Greenwich Village.

The first year we moved to New York, I called ahead and placed an order for pickup for the food I wanted. The second year, I found out that my list of Christmas food items isn’t out of the ordinary and the store is so well stocked that I don’t reserve ahead any more. I just show up, get what I need while trying to not bump into too many other shoppers, and head home to cook.

This year I was surprised that a famous actress, let’s call her Mrs. X, was impatiently waiting in line behind me. I noticed her because she was trying to get a woman in line ahead of us to move. I answered “We can’t move, she was told to stop there.” As I turned to address her, I think I was able to hide that I instantly recognized her. Others in line chimed in, and Mrs. X realized there was a “bouncer” who was controlling the movement of the line. As I stood there, I thought about how when we first moved to New York, I would occasionally run into famous actors and usually felt compelled to let them know that I knew who they were, and how much I admired their work. Yes, it’s true, I would fawn and make them uncomfortable, to my dismay. In time, I learned to respect their privacy and to strive to treat them like I would anyone else. So my lack of response today was measured and practiced; it felt like a turning point. I think Mrs. X said something like “Nothing like being pushy on Christmas Eve.”

I got to advance soon thereafter, but the “bouncer” made Mrs. X stay in the other line. By then I couldn’t resist any longer: “Do you know who that is?” I whispered in his ear. He shrugged, so I told him. “So what?” he answered.

We get a lot of famous people in here. She can wait like anybody else. Actress Y comes in here every day and we have a thing, she tells me: ‘Don’t tap the girls, you shouldn’t do that.’

(Why he felt compelled to demonstrate by tapping me on the shoulder, I’ll never know, but hey Actress Y, it’s not working, he still taps women on the shoulder, come back and tell him to cut it out! You’re right, it’s annoying!) Someone in line piped up about Actress Y, “She’s really nice.” “Yeah, she’s cool,” the bouncer responded gruffly.

Then it was time to pay for the groceries and head back home. But I’ll remember this year’s shopping expedition with a hint of pride: I didn’t trespass Mrs X’s privacy, I really treated her like I would have anyone else. Progress, not perfection.

 Photo credit:  Roland Tanglao 

Categories: Culture, New York City, Our Times

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