Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Portrait of a Market and a State of Mind: Market Basket, Somerville, Ma.

Portrait of a Market and a State of Mind: Market Basket, Somerville, Ma.

By Doug Holder

When I walk through the door, I see a line of seniors sitting on chairs...a Greek Chorus of sorts--- crooning commentary on the flash of patrons who continually come through the store. There is the heavily accented cacophony, “ Paper or plastic?” There are the coupon men and women who confusingly rifle through their list of bargains, as the people who stand on line have the zombie-like-- sort of posture that would make the filmmaker George Romero proud. The deli counter is a symphony of shouts-- a friendly argument or conversation with the customers-- “ What's it gonna be, hon,?” “ Do you want the Provolone thick or thin?,” “ Not an ounce of fat on it, chief—God be my witness.” The fish mongers come out from the back, hearty, red-faced from the freezers—staring down the poker -faced fish eyes of the Red Snapper, admiring the sleek texture of an upscale piece of swordfish, even giving the lowly chowder fish its due.

There is an art to maneuver your cart here. Like any busy city street—you have to be a skilled driver. You swing and swerve, your hips swivel like a modern dancer, you make a lightning turn for those Melba Toasts-another for the treasure chest of frozen vegetables—you snap your fingers at the snap peas.

The roast chickens—pleasingly plump—their breasts straining against the plastic wrap—like, well...this is a family newspaper.

Like a deviant you clandestinely feel up an avocado, the mounds of melons, the peach with its adolescent peach fuzz.

Down the aisle— while studying a can of chili, you see a long-lost friend—that you haven't seen in 20 years. You debate whether to start a conversation—to revisit what was long put to bed-- but you just leave instead.

You eye the purchases of the person in front of you on line. You are judgmental. “ How could they eat those slabs of fatty pork,” you say to yourself. You always snicker at the folks who read the National Enquirer—but you find yourself rifling through it yourself. You feel self-righteous because you brought your own canvas bag—you gallantly turn down the plastic.

Outside the parking lot is full. The cars, like produce are crammed in their  pre-ordained spots. You get in your car and drive—because it really gets busy at five.