Strange things happen to me at the grocery store often, but something that occurred at Market Basket down in Brockton this past weekend really sticks out as beyond bizarre. I was standing there in the chicken section when over the loudspeaker somebody said, “Will Chelsea Clinton please come to the front? Will Chelsea Clinton please come to the front?”
Were my ears deceiving me? Is it possible that somebody is actually named Chelsea Clinton? I mean, I guess it’s possible, but still, the whole thing was nevertheless pretty weird. And I didn’t believe my own ears until a guy standing near me looked at the woman he was with and said, “Lock her up!”
It was at this point that I realized just how seriously important the grocery store is. For me at least. I’m no hermit; I ride the train and the bus, and I walk around and eat out. Sometimes I even do Japanese steakhouses, where I have to sit with people I don’t know. But there is an equality to the market experience that none of these other settings have; maybe it’s the intimacy, since we are seeing right there in the open what our neighbors keep inside their cupboards and what brand of tissue they clean out their assholes with, or perhaps it is that we all have to be on the same page to some degree so that the place doesn’t erupt into complete chaos. At the same time, there isn’t too much of the bullshit or fraudulent nicety that you get in a place like church. I shop on Sundays, and in my experience those who are coming from worship are done with the friendly routine for the day.
So, what exactly was it about that guy’s Clinton joke that made me think about how critical these supermarket trips are for a balanced life? I think it’s because if somebody I knew said something that insanely stupid, like on my Facebook wall, I would have no choice but to bite their goddamn head off. (I’m no fan of any Clinton, but I assume that anybody making such a quip supports the president, and at this juncture such an endorsement means you’re a despicable bigot and imbecile.) On the other hand, when some dumbass I’ve never met and hopefully won’t see again says it in public, I am capable of laughing it off, and of simply and silently hoping that all of the sugary garbage and junk food in their cart prevents them from making it out to the polls next election.
Unlike some Americans, I’m not in any rush to reach out to the other side. I’m far too busy fighting all the evil policies and money grabs that politicians whom conservatives support are helping foster. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching barbarians in public, then coming home and writing nasty things about them for my readers.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.