Saturday, February 07, 2004


I'm planning to fly to Atlanta in a couple of weeks to see some friends from law school. I had a $20 Northwest Airlines voucher that was about to expire, and when I booked my flight over the phone I was told that I had to go in person to a Northwest ticket office if I wanted to use the voucher against the fare. The closest office to my Minneapolis home is nestled in a Byerly's grocery store in the nearby suburb of Edina, a few blocks from the Southdale shopping mall (which, having opened way back in 1956, is reputed to be the nation's first.)

So I went there the other night. After consummating the ticket transaction--it ended up taking only a few minutes--I crossed into the grocery store to pick up a few things, including some star fruit and Asian pears, since my finicky six-year-old daughter has decided, inexplicably but encouragingly, that she likes them. The store's sound system was in oldies mode, with a touch of slight obscurity--selections included Bill Haley's version of "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," the Hollies' "Stop Stop Stop" (a song I always associate with the longtime Twin Cities band Boiled in Lead, who covered it on this album years ago), and, best of all (and I mean "all" in the broadest possible sense, as nothing gets much better than this), Gene Vincent's "Be-Bop-A-Lula."

I paid for the groceries--like I had the plane ticket--with my Target Visa card. As I was pulling out of the parking lot I noticed the Guitar Center store across the street and remembered that I needed a new set of bridge pegs for my acoustic guitar. A very helpful clerk--assistant manager, actually, according to his name tag--helped me find what I needed. After gazing for a few moments in abject longingness at the grail, I pointed my car toward the freeway and was home in time to help put the kids to bed.

Airline tickets, exotic fruits in the depths of a northern winter, timeless songs, and arcane guitar paraphernalia in under an hour, greased with a chain-store-branded credit card and wrapped up in a freeway bow.

Goddamned suburbs.


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