Saturday, June 20, 2009

Groceries with the famous and cool // Prepositions are just technicalities

In the last few years since starting to watch Top Chef on Bravo, I've become more and more of a food snob. To that end, I've stopped buying fish from Trader Joe's because it comes wrapped in celophane and have replaced that with fresh, paper-wrapped fish from Whole Foods. And just to make my snobbery even higher up the sloped nose of snootiness, I shop at the new, mega-Whole Foods in El Segundo. (The legitimate reason for this is that I am regularly down there to get lunch at some cool local establishments and that Whole Foods always has everything I might want given it's mega-sizedness.)

But the other day after errands had sent me to Santa Monica, I decided to hit the Whole Foods in Santa Monica, which had recently been renovated. Upon walking in I was in the produce section, which as it turns out was my primary motivation for going—I wanted fresh fruit. While scoping the organic nectarines, I noticed the shiny blonde locks streaking through a woman's long, straight, brown hair. Seeing her in profile, she's kinda cute and ... she's wearing very hip cat's-eye glasses that immediately remind me of Lisa Loeb's glasses from the "Stay" video. Suddenly she's even cuter.

Then I'm struck by the lightning bolt realization that this is in fact the Lisa Loeb—the object of millions of current 30-somethings idealized girlfriendom when they were finishing high school/in college. Wow! I'm shopping with Lisa Loeb!!!

Since moving to Los Angeles in August 2002, I've had three sightings of female celebrities that gave me pause. The first: Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine on Star Trek Voyager at the Bed, Bath and Beyond in Manhattan Beach). She was super tall, skinny and well seeing someone buying towels at a BB&B humanizes them a lot. The second: Catherine Bell (formerly of JAG now of Army Wives, pattern?) at Barnes and Noble in Tarzana. Let's just say "caught" and "staring" and "kinda even following" were involved. The third: Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) at The Fonda during a Lily Allen concert. This one resulted in me choking even though I had a legit opening to talk to her (we had each been body checked by someone and when we looked at each other she smiled at me, as in wtf just happend to us?).

This is the fourth part of the quadrilogy. The last thing I want to happen is to get caught staring or even perceived of as following. Once was enough for that hot-faced embarrassment. I go back to the nectarines and start squeezing looking for good ones—firm enough that they won't spoil in two days. Honestly, it takes at least seven minutes to find three that I like. I am not stationary-stalking her.

After picking up some nectarines, I grab a bag of organic cherries and notice that Lisa Loeb is still in the produce section. I head to the seafood case, which is at the back of the produce, because I decide to get lunch here as well; also, this will get me out of her zone, right? On my way I stop and take a look at some dates and pre-cut mango for a couple minutes. As I head over to seafood, Lisa Loeb is talking to the fish guy asking to get her order skinned. I wait for the only associate to finish with her before I can place my order. We're totally buying fish together. Well, that's what I would have said when I was a freshman in college.

Now I take advantage of the glories that are a remodeled Whole Foods and decide to wander the aisles and also pick up some potato chips (which I'm out of). The fish case is at the northwest corner of the store so I have to head south to find the snacks aisle. It's like the third aisle away from me. As I turn left there's Lisa again. Now we're obviously on a first-name basis. Seriously, I have a flash of concern that I'm unintentionally broadcasting a kinda weird-guy vibe.

N.Y. Cheddar? Sea Salt? Sea Salt and Black Pepper? Baked? Kettle cooked? Organic? Thai? Sour Cream and Onion? The wall of over-priced non Frito Lay chips overwhelms me. They all sound great. Perhaps I was telling myself this so that I'll linger a bit longer as I notice that she's still searching for some kind of snack (maybe a salsa?). Seriously, if she ever stumbles upon this I am banned from that store, even though the point of this is just to illlustrate how weird it is living on the westside of L.A. :(

OK, just grab some fucking chips—they're all gonna be good—and get out of the aisle. I pick up the N.Y. Cheddar, which incidentally were fabulous. I see LL two or three more times as I wander past over-priced stainless steel and aluminum water bottles, a wall of hot sauces, prepared deli foods, gourmet cheeses with unpronounceable names and frozen burritos with friendly sounding names like "Amy's."

Upon leaving, I can't get the cat's eye glasses out of my mind. I have to call someone. I call work just to tell the story because it's the middle of the day and I know we work in the kind of office that we can get away with taking a call from a vacationing co-worker who shops with, OK near, a singer most-famous for a song she released 14 years ago and whom he still kinda crushes on.


conner said...

mike..this was too funny. i'm so happy for you, and yay to hear you are growing a deeper appreciation for good, fresh foods!

conner said...

ps. one of my friends saw jenny lewis outside a laundromat the day she was performing in sf and got pictures...super jealous!