Magdalena On: Bitter Housewives

High-end markets might possibly be the best part about L.A. It’s not only the lighting, muted bulbs rather than harsh fluorescents, and the hardwood as opposed to that awful sticky white linoleum, but also it’s the feeling you get as you walk through the rich mahogany-shelved aisles, gazing at gourmet imports and listening to Bach, that you’re not really doing an errand. Rather you feel like you’re being treated. Treated to a fabulous pantry of saffron-soaked lentils and shaved daikon. Where no one shakes their head or scrunches their eyebrows when you inquire about cactus stock or cremona fruit. Where they actually sell quinoa thyme buerre blanc, you can sample anything and if you don’t like it you can take it back. No really, just look—but not in an obvious way—to your left.

See her?

That blond (so blond it looks silver)-haired woman with the fierce ass and aquamarine glasses standing at aisle two? The one who just handed the checker three dozen wilted long-stemmed roses and demanded a full refund because, as is perfectly obvious, they died. And the clerk, bless her heart, just smiled and punched in the keys. Exchanging $272.18 in cash for the drooping bouquet, without batting an eye, because even if she doesn’t understand it personally she’s been trained to understand that in Los Angeles bitter housewives are the bread and butter of Bristol Farms, because not many people are willing, or rather able, to consistently shell out $8 an ounce for Norwegian cheese imported from albino goats. Try that in a Stater Bros., or even at a Ralphs, and you’ll get your ass laughed out of the store. You’ll also only pay $2.99 for a family-sized block of orange cheese, but that’s not what this is about. And although it may seem like it, it’s not about the roses either. It’s about gestures and principles and the very real truth that what the woman with the blond bob really wants to take back is her husband, but because she can’t do that she bundled up the roses that he gave her nine days ago in an apologetic action and brought them back instead. And as she stands at the counter wearing diamonds and terrycloth and not much more, you can see the loneliness radiate from her flat tummy and tiny thighs. You know that her husband still doesn’t give her the time she deserves, and taking the roses back to the market in his Bentley gives her something to do. She wouldn’t dare take back a rotten cantaloupe or a stale baguette, because undoubtedly those things would smell, but the roses, they make perfect sense. And Christ knows she’s not the only woman to think so.

I want to tell her as much, and I suppose I could if I didn’t have a schedule to keep and a gazillion box lunches to make.

Taken from the chapter entitled Mise en Scène from So L.A. by Bridget Hoida; copyright 2012.

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