She minces no words.

Dont Mince Words

The Little Odessa bodega

Posted on October 28, 2008 by Marna

There are times I miss Brooklyn. Good bagels. Real pizza. Funny Jews. It was very apparent last week I wasn’t anywhere near Brooklyn when I went to my corner market.

I’ve been a shut-in since my foot surgery, but felt strong enough to venture out, primarily for fruit and human interaction. I put my backpack on, grabbed the leash, and Tex and I crutched up to Santa Monica Boulevard. I tied him to the tree in front of the market and I went in.

Bodegas in NY have everything. Sewing kits, beer, cheese, you name it. The markets in my neighborhood are run by Russian Jews. All food labels are in Russian. Their customers are stereotypical sad Russians sporting scowls. My gimpy WASPY self was happy to be around the old world Jews, just for a change of pace. I grabbed some tomatoes, grapes, dark rye and waited in line and stared at the deli case which had a variety of beet dishes. I suppose Russians like their root vegetables.

When I finally got to the register the woman before me was almost out the door, but was speaking very loud and pointing. I realized it was Tex. I hobbled to the door as she continued to speak her Russian blah-blah to me. I smiled and said, “He’s old and very, very friendly.”

She seemed surprised I wasn’t a native speaker. Maybe my bed head made me look more Russian. “Oh, he is beautiful dog. You see he is very old soul,” my rectangular-shaped neighbor in a polyester dress told me.

Back at the register, the owner tried to up-sell with potato pancakes and other bakery items. She then went to the meat case and pulled out what looked like a one-inch diameter Slim Jim dipped in battery acid. I can’t begin to tell you how many un-nameable cow parts I saw there. “It will make you well,” she told me. I thanked her and stuffed my backpack.

I’m now doing much better and Tex and I can make it the four short blocks to Whole Foods with one crutch. I may go back and visit my Russians, but for now, I’m back to English-speaking WeHo gays and Hollywood Jews. These are my people. Besides, Whole Foods has bagels.

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  • About Marna

    Marna’s writing career started as a Pentagon intern. Early exposure to $500 toilet seat press releases made her appreciate creative nonfiction. Now she has more than 25 years of senior-level marketing and communications success working with Fortune 100 companies, government, nonprofits, small businesses, startups, and agencies.

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