Fact: Old ladies love free food samples. Actually, it doesn’t have to be food. They’ll take anything that’s free, including those stinky soap samples they hand out outside Sabon. You can always use more soap! But they like food the best.
Is it a fixed income thing? A scarcity mentality left over from the Great Depression? No, I think it’s a natural part of aging. Maybe something that you can ward off with lots of broccoli and salmon. But for these people, too late.
If it’s in small pieces and out on a plate, they’ll eat it: hardening cheese cubes, mini turkey rollups, stale muffin bits, hummus with tortilla chips, or just the broken tortilla chips if that’s all that’s left. And fruit! They love the fruit. You should see the way they flock to a cut-up Bartlett pear at Citarella. They hover, waiting for that guy in the white jacket to finish slicing. His knife is barely out of the way when all the veiny hands plunge in at once, grabbing at the slimy slices till there’s nothing left but the core and the piece with the stem and a sliver too thin and slippery to pick up. It’s like a cock fight. Sometimes the winner will take an extra slice for her husband: “Hey Rubin, you want some pear? There are samples!”
I’m not like them.
They’re shameless, those ladies with their piggy paws in the pear tin. That’s the difference between them and me: I do have shame. I’m a self-loathing sampler. I’ll admit it. I love, love, love samples. Just as much as the seniors do. I am a sample whore. In yiddish, a schnorrer. Nothing to do with age, I’ve been this way since I was 3, begging for bologna slices at the butcher.
But at least I have the dignity to hate myself for it.
I don’t want to be associated in any way with the others, so I’ll stand back and watch, thinking “can’t these old crows just buy a f*cking pear?” And then I’ll think, “hey, bitches, leave me some.” And finally: “Seconds? Really? Oink oink. Seriously, some of us haven’t had any.” I don’t just think these things. I say them, with my face. It’s all in the eyebrows.
I’m perfectly right to judge. These people don’t even pretend to think about buying. They just take. Me, when i grab that sample, I make a show of looking at the pears like I’m weighing the pros and cons of taking some home. “Hmmm. Hmmm. Nah.” This is how it’s done, people.
And if I’m in Tasti-D-Lite (which I never am any more thanks to Sabon), I don’t just suck that little corrugated white taster cup till it’s flat and empty, then say “thanks” and leave. There’s a protocol:
- make a “meh” face, like the vanilla’s not quite what I expected
- scan the freezer as though I might want to buy a different, pre-packed flavor or a Tasti Pinwheel
- say, “Hmm, what time do you close? Eleven? Cool, I’ll come back after dinner.”
Look, I know that the girl in the blue apron (and, usually, hajib – not relevant) knows it’s a charade. And she knows I know she knows it’s a charade. And I know she doesn’t care if I buy some or not. In fact, she’d prefer not. Less work. She just wants me to leave so she can call back her boo, who she had to hang up on when I walked in looking for my free ounce of dessert.
But this is all part of a social contract. You can’t go around taking free samples like you’re entitled to them. You have to take them like you know you shouldn’t be. Do a song and dance. Show a little shame.
Don’t you agree?
If you don’t, you’re probably an old lady. And you’re not reading this, either because you don’t know how to do internet or you’re too busy licking the above jpeg of a frozen dairy swirl. Enjoy!