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Pathmark of Least Resistance

Not too far from here, is this freakish, large-for-NYC Pathmark with a parking lot. I could never figure it out. I've passed it as a passenger countless times because it's en route between James's apartment, now my new one, and my old place.

The store gives the impression of being in the middle of nowhere despite being blocks from the Smith and 9th St. F/G line. Maybe that's because it isn't really in a particular neighborhood. That semi-industrial stretch of the BQE isn't quite Red Hook, Carroll Gardens or Park Slope, though it cusps all three. I think it's what they call Gowanus, despite not being an official neighborhood (though I do appreciate any word that contains 'anus' like that).

I always figured this Pathmark must be a draw for Red Hook residents since it's just on the other side Hamilton Ave. and that neighborhood is probably even a little more lacking in decent amenities than my old neck of the woods, Sunset Park north. In other words, it must be busted. But I was still curious about it.

James didn't even know it existed until a few weeks ago when I pointed it out (I guess driving takes a lot of concentration'I just assume those who helm notice the same things as passengers). As far as wide-aisle, lots of choice, cheap 'real' grocery stores go, he's pretty loyal to Western Beef in Ridgewood. Which is kind of silly and out of the way, considering that's now two neighborhoods ago for me, but it's quick in a car. But still, we figured Pathmark might be worth a peek.

So yes, it actually is a real grocery store with a normal produce section, bakery, fish counter, etc. (however, they don't have gruyere, which is a benchmark I've been using since I had trouble finding fondue ingredients a few months ago. The Pathmark on Atlantic does have gruyere and is a little more upscale than this location, but that place is pain to deal with and is housed in the most broken Brooklyn shopping center with the world's saddest Old Navy, Marshall's and Macy's). They have Coinstar machines, self-serve checkout (which always makes me nervous outside suburban areas, people here have a particular knack for fucking the thing up, assuming it's even working. At Home Depot, you're lucky if one of four kiosks is up and running) and a bizarre mini mall arrangement inside with a Dunkin Donuts, optometrist, 99-cent type store, and liquor store that's open on Sunday. It's an all right place, especially if you're one of those types who just enjoys the feel of pushing a cart around aimlessly and browsing varieties of Hot Pockets (not that I'm buying Hot Pockets, I just like seeing the flavors. Beef Taco just seems wrong.)

I was enjoying my leisurely Saturday afternoon stroll through the supermarket (yeah, this is what passes for fun once you start living with a guy) when out of the corner of my eye I see my old upstairs neighbor with that hideous, always-squealing toddler with a balloon jammed into a shopping cart mere inches from me. I was like oh shit, jerked my head to the right, then saw the dad on another aisle. And this was weird because just last week I had been speculating on where my upstairs neighbors shopped and conducted business because they don't have a car either, and during my three-year stint in Sunset Park I'd never once seen them hauling groceries or laundry.

Running into my week-old former neighbors wouldn't have been doomsday, but I like tidy endings. When I dropped off my keys with them last week it closed that chapter. It wouldn't have been a big deal to just say hi at the supermarket, but I didn't want to. It was like they were continuing to invade my world, as if it wasn't enough to hear screaming, jumping and balls bouncing through the ceiling and have their horrible macaroni and cheese and Cheerios back up into my sink, and soapy shower water pour through the walls of my bathroom, they had to be in my new found grocery store too'!

Argh. I don't even know how they got there, it's not on a direct subway line, but they're those Brooklyn types who take car services all over. I freaked out and ran into the frozen food section. And it's not like I was really that well camouflaged considering that besides the foursome I was trying to avoid, James and I were practically the only other white people in the place (I don't think it's racist to explain a clientele in terms of color or ethnicity, but James thinks this is heinously wrong and embarrassing. But I don't see how it's offensive. Would it be upsetting if I said we were the only white people in a Chinese restaurant' Maybe it's using 'white.' Is saying we were the only non-Asians any better' Should I be P.C. and pretend like I don't notice differences: 'love see no color' [this was a lame slogan on street vendor tees in Portland in the early '90s]). It's kind of like when you're a kid and you see your teacher at the grocery store, running into them out of context is awkward, paths aren't meant to cross in certain environments. There's no escape in this world, I guess.

Pathmark * 25 12th St, Brooklyn, NY

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