Monday, August 15, 2005


I thought I would feel awful doing it. I thought I would feel that I was betraying the people around me but as I approached the only 7-Eleven convenience store in New York City, I felt an odd sense of ease and comfort. The sort of ease and comfort you only feel when you're growing up in the suburbs and the only stress you have is tonight's Algebra homework. The gloriously anorexic rainbow of green, yellow and red embraced me with its warm hues. The artificial fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling set to a blaring bright beamed onto the sidewalk of 23rd and Park Avenue almost outshining the daytime sun. When pedestrians walked by, they took a quick double look as if something was amiss on this corner. Had a piece of their hometown crept into the Big Apple during the night and planted itself near the subway entrance for the 4, 5, or 6? In the name of all that is sacred and holy, what happens when you take something so distinctively town and plant it into the City of cities?

Jada Yuan, a good friend of mine and a journalist for New York Magazine, accused 7-Eleven's CEO James Keyes of invading New York City and imposing his faceless corporate entity on the unwilling and perhaps even intimidating corner bodegas in the area. While I condone Yuan for her integrity, I assume that it's been a long time since she stepped foot into a 7-Eleven because as soon as I walked in, I felt at home. My mother may as well have been behind the counter but alas she is neither Chinese nor Indian (I know! So cliché!). For me, this experience was why so many spend every free moment of their time in Central Park; while inside, I was far away from the fast-paced hustle and tense atmosphere of New York City. I was on vacation. I could not visualize or fathom skyscrapers and towers while the hum of the Big Gulp machine sang me a sweet tune. Nor could I remember the use of a Metrocard as I watched the rotating and hypnotic dance of the hot dog grill. I was far and away. I was in heaven, or in my case, New Jersey. And just when I thought that everything was right in the world, I saw her standing in the corner. It's been a long time, I thought, but I would always recognize could I forget?
Alas, she came back for me, the Slurpee machine.

Even though I generally gravitate to diet beverages I would do no such thing in this instance. I grabbed the spout for the Coca Cola Slurpee and pulled with absolute and dying confidence. I watched the flowing stream of carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, caffeine, and of course the hidden ingredient. Oh, it filled the cup with fullness like the love of a mother for a child. It was be mere moments before I partook in that liquid love.

I left the 7-Eleven with a Coke Slurpee in hand. I felt invincible. I could cross the street without looking both ways. I could take a bullet anywhere in my body (although, not in the bathing suit area). Everyone checked me out--My Slurpee made me exponentially hotter. Their eyes asked me, where did you get that? I passed a homeless woman. I felt like I could give her a million dollars. But of course, I didn't have it to give to her. Sorry, homeless woman. I loved my Slurpee and my Slurpee loved me. We were newlyweds that only needed the company of one another. And for the first time, I understood the tagline because I too was finally thanking Heaven.


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