Jan 11, 2008


SEATTLE, Washington – My local supermarket shut. Well, it'll reopen, under eight stories of poncy condos in two years. But the few, the proud, the car-free face a 1.5-mile stroll for groceries now.*

Yet a woman can not live on deli chips and pizza delivery alone. So I saddle up my medium backpack – the mamma bear of the gear closet – and clump to the Ballard Market. Then I lurk its ergonomic aisles, making subversive asides about the $6 strawberry punts to yuppies in $200 fleece.

Tonight my moodiness was upstaged. Badly.

A pea-coated hipster lowered his cell phone and snapped: "Do you mind not talking about chicken abattoirs? That's not appropriate deli banter."

To the staff's credit, all six or seven held it together until he wandered off. At which point, everyone – customers included – began howling. "DELI BANTER: MAKE IT APPROPRIATE!"

These hardworking citizens slice meat all day. Even as a veggie, I understand the need for shoptalk. And any sensitive-petal carnivore who can't hack the red-tooth-and-claw reality of carcass can join me for a lively selection of firm tofu: baked, smoked or spiced...

My radicchio chitchat may be sub-par, but I guarantee very demure and politically correct conversations about antioxidants.

*yes, yes. I could bike or bus, but the logistics grow annoying.


  1. Deli Banter. A new phrase to slip into our lexicon along with reindeer games and moose ass.

  2. If he reappears again can you ask him about what is appropriate Deli banter? I'd love to know what things one is allowed to talk about.

  3. I'll post all further field reports here, Louche.

    In the meantime, a few guesses...

    Shade-grown, fair-trade coffee
    Parthenon marble repatriation
    Was Hillary's tear glycerin?
    How to pimp one's Vanagon
    Escher is my favorite MC
    Zombie porn

  4. Okay, totally unrelated, but kind of related.

    I was wasting time in Macy's today, checking out the sales. I was near the fitting rooms. One of three employees picked up a pair of sweat pants that someone had tried on and not purchased.

    It was a MASSIVE pair of sweatpants. She held it up, pulling the waistband wide.

    "Damn, don't tell me someone couldn't fit into these. There's no one on earth that couldn't fit in these pants."

    The three employees howled.

    I don't think that was appropriate Macy's banter.

  5. sascha5:54 AM

    See Travel Diva's blog November 16 entry for appropriate deli banter Brit style.....


  6. Maybe the big pants belonged to travel diva's biscuit scoffer?

    (Sorry. Couldn't resist)

  7. Marie, in high school I worked briefly at the mall, where I folded sweaters in some then-trendy chain (the name escapes me. Mariposa, perhaps?)

    Anyway, the line of cheap tat only ran up to size 16. So my job often entailed delicately suggesting the "big and tall" store in the adjacent wing.

    My god, but it was awful. More often than not, the lady in question would begin shrieking, "DO YOU THINK I'M FAT?"

    Well. Um. No. Yes. Really: I'm making $4.75 an hour and PROFOUNDLY DO NOT CARE. But your size, madam, is not here.

    I once thought "maggot farmer" was the worst job possible. But crushing a curvy gal's illusions: far, far worse.

    Only Simon Cowell could enjoy such a thing.

  8. LERNERS. That was the dreadful shop's name.

    At break and the end of every shift, the manager had to paw through our bags, ostensibly to prevent shoplifting.

    I lasted 2-3 months, then bolted back to the YMCA to lifeguard and teach swim lessons.