Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I need to go to Duane Reade

I am no stranger to late night trips over to friends' homes or to big shopping centers where I can get everything from wrenches to cereal in one trip. In fact, I just waltzed home from Duane Reade right now at 11:32 PM because I realized I was on the dregs of my Listerine. My sporadic sort of life style lends itself well to the tendency of New York City stores staying open late. Living here means that I will always be able to buy those mystery packets of woman health pills that are the size of sardines and fig newtons whenever I feel like it. And I won't even need to get into the car.

So Saturday night, after deciding to make brownies at 10:30 at night, dragging ourselves all the way over to the corner convenience store 50 feet away, then all the way back, Mary Kate, Sara J., and I realized we only had one solitary egg. The recipe called for two. My tendency with these box pastries is to just call it a day and use one egg. If I would have had no oil, I most likely would have forged ahead anyway. Those box pastries were designed for pastry chefs with the absolutely lowest level of concentration and talent. I'm pretty sure I have made those funfetti cakes before without adding the water. However, this is one of the few instances in life I can think of where quality does not suffer despite the ease and low price of the ingredients. I have watched with horrified eyes before as Sara Lee fudgie brownies stuck into the oven at 500 degrees for about 2 minutes with goo still oozing out the middle have disappeared far before people even noticed the little chocolate cranberry biscotti I labored over for 6 solid hours the night before, fretting that the walnuts weren't chopped just right and that maybe the shape of that one cookie really was a little bit unseemly.

Since Mary Kate and Sara J. are a little boring and huge squares, however, one egg would not do. Nor would one egg with a substitution of a few tomatoes suffice. All they would take would be two eggs or none at all, we might as well could use the brownie mix to make chocolate milk. So around 11:30 at night, we decided there was no better time to get to know our neighbors than the present.

We have seen our neighbors in the elevators mostly. One time I was riding down in the elevator, and older man pointed out it was a good day that day because we were alive. He set the standard pretty low for ourselves, and the rest of the building seems to be following suit. In addition to the people who always seem to be wearing suits, who are mostly seen in passing storming through the front door, our apartment building is also home to people who look like they only decided to leave their apartments because they ran out of deodorant five months ago and they still really don't feel like taking a shower. They are the people I have branded the untouchables, the women dragging themselves around different hallways with the stringy hair, without a bra, wilted lettuce hanging out between their teeth and old tissues stuck into their armpits for later use, telling us they have bed bugs and that we're only a prayer away from having them ourselves. We're not entirely sure how they afford rent, but here they are and probably here they are to stay.

At about 11:30:57 PM, after Mary Kate and Sara J. had knocked on the door 3 seconds before, they came scampering back in to our own apartment. After the initial realization that actually it was sort of late (not too late to go to Duane Reade, but maybe too late to knock on a stranger's door), we also realized that the chance the neighbor could have been one of the bad seeds was larger than the chance it was a well-groomed young business man.

The long and short of this is that we have yet to meet our neighbors. And that it's still a good thing that the stores never close, because then we still had to go get eggs.