Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Almost-Teflon Don

I moved to Southern California three weeks after graduating (barely) Syracuse University. That means I've been living out here for 12 years. I know, you're doing the math and thinking, "Rich you look old for 34."

Sadly, I didn't discover the benefits of sufficient UV sun protection until it was too late.

Despite living here for a dozen years, there are some distinctive SoCal pleasures I have not enjoyed. For instance, I have never been to Catalina Island. I'd like to, but I'd also like not to hurl my whole grain oatmeal breakfast over the starboard side of the ferry.

Sometimes the iconic experiences that many talk about simply don't live up to the hype. I know many folks, including my fellow blogger Jeff, who swear by the classic hamburgers at the Apple Pan or the legendary roast beef au jus at Phillippes downtown. Frankly, I found both disappointing. The burger was OK, but nothing resembling special. And downtown LA, for those of you who have walked the cracked, urine-soaked streets, just doesn't lend itself to a memorable dining experience.

On the flip side of all that, this week I made my virgin visit to a 99 cent store. And I'm happy to report the experience was well worth the price. There were miles of aisles of off-brand and off-off-brand bargains. Everything from canned bananas to Chinese tool sets that were neither metric nor standard American sizes.
I'm not sure I'll be able to use any of the socket wrenches but the illustrations and mangled translations in the user guide made it a must-have item.

And at 99 cents, how could I go wrong?

As we made our way to the cashier with our Heinds Katsup, Pepci Kola and Tampaks Feminine Napkins, my daughter noticed a small book section. It was inordinately stocked with Victoria Gotti's memoir, This Family of Mine. They didn't have enough shelf space for all the copies. They were literally spilling over into the 99 cent pet food section.

I don't think a lot people who shop at this store are interested in reading Ms. Gotti's Mafioso adventure. But serendipity may prevail. They may have much better luck marketing the book as a 99 cent chew toy.

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