December 4, 2010

Slipping into Sandwiches

I've always been afraid of delis. Being raised vegetarian, I didn't end up in one very often. The one we did frequent occasionally was rarely busy, and not too intimidating. These facts meant I never developed the assertive nature necessary to stride boldly up to the counter and order something. Anything. Especially not in a big city style deli, with fifteen runners behind the counter making 10-second sandwiches. At Genova Delicatessen and Ravioli in Temescal I, unsurprisingly, felt afraid. Especially afraid when I saw that my friend had already taken a number and was gesturing that I grab my own. Couldn't we order together? I wondered. We talked about the options non stop for the next ten minutes, waiting to be served. The Olympic Team behind the counter did 24 numbers in that time, finally coming to us. I ordered a specialty sandwich and then acquiesced to every suggestion made by my sandwich maker. She spent another ten minutes making it, and I leaned nervously against the counter wondering if you could buy a beer 'for here'. I steeled myself when she returned and asked - you could - and then got a mondo pickle to boot. I had made it through the fog into the groovy joy of a Panchetta, fresh Mozarella, and Sundried Tomato (PMT). It was like finally figuring out where you are slipping, when you are slipping into darkness. The pickle was that grandly echoing rim shot.

Slipping into Darkness - The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Upendo Ni Pamoja (1972)

As a bonus, the woman who took 10 minutes making my sandwich (I think she was new) somehow beat me to the bathroom. Having already waited so long, navigated the perils of the deli, and been so hungry, I felt I had to use it before eating, to cleanse myself of the anxieties of bladder holding and on-the-spot ordering. The at this point unknown person in the bathroom took another 8 minutes, and when I had given up and returned to my seat to do my best to enjoy the first bite of cured funky pig, I noticed the last place sandwich lady, sneaking past. It certainly topped everything off. I peed away my worries, and returned to the stylings of the Ramsey Lewis Sandwich Trio: cured ham, fresh moz, and oily tomatoes.

People Make the World Go Round - The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Upendo Ni Pamoja (1972)

(Originally written by The Stylistics, also recorded in '72 by MJ and Lenny Williams. Sampled in Swan Lake by DJ Shadow.)

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