A young, male-oriented millennial gradually approaches the deli counter like the slow walking emoji boy in blue jeans, red shirt. Both Hands kept concealed in his pockets while he stands there emotionless, doesn’t say a word, patiently waiting for me to initiate the conversation like it’s some sort of real life game of the dating app Bumble.
Next thing I know 24 hours pass and I get this lucky lady one time only notification of an extension.
Because I don’t know how to distinguish the difference between life in my phone and life in the deli, the glass screen being the only obstacle standing between this potential customer and his meat, I finally break the silence out of boredom using my classic go to opening line.
“Hi, take note of my natural smile despite not being in an aisle, my name is Ella, you can call me Della. I’m pushing 30, live in my parents’ basement and slice meat for a living. How may I help you today?”
“WELL ITS MY FIRST TIME!!”
He blurts this out unexpectedly in over the top all exclamatory caps.
Insert Big Eyed Emoji and a momentary silence of contemplation.
Although I appreciate the honesty, what does this guy want from me? Congratulations for getting out there! A pat on the back? Congrats on finding that inner courage to order lunch meat in person! Mommy wow You’re a big boy now! I mean Is he expecting a surplus of confetti to just fall from the sky?! Bravo! Ding Ding Ding we got ourselves a winner! First time caller, long time listener! Winner winner, chicken dinner!
“Alright, well, let me gently hold your hand and I’ll walk you through the process. To be honest, It can get rather complicated. The delicatessen is a glass case of complexities.”
“The first step is understanding what you want, or rather, what you lack. For everyone knows consumption is driven purely by emotions. The second step is familiarizing yourself with your options. Use your eyes, scan the case. Back and forth, up and down. What is out there? What is in here? And finally, arguably the most vital step is determining the dollar to dopamine ratio. What are you willing to pay for quality sandwich induced glimpses of inner happiness?”
Feel free to be your autonomous self, allowing for discreet glances at your reflection ever so often in the depths of the glass case. Take as much time as you need while the line progressively and rather angrily extends all the way back into aisle two.
“I think I want turkey.”
Of course slow talker boy "thinks" he wants the most generic white meat available.
“Ok well we have 15 different shades of the basic turkey.”
Another 24 hours pass as I give a detailed account for each variety and flavor of this typical American meat. By this point I have taken 27 new selfies, an entire turkey photo shoot, and extended my snap story to 340 seconds.
“I think I want the hickory smoked”
“GREAT!! and How much would you like?”
Little did I know that this question would throw both millennial boy and I down a long and twisted, spiraling inner dilemma.
“well I don’t know…..what are my options?”
WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS FOR MEASURING MEAT!? OMG YOU ARE KILLING ME NEWBIE.
I look him straight blank, direct eye contact. Oddly I catch myself staring quite literally into his soul, it’s like we almost share this inexplicable moment and I begin to feel myself growing lighter, easing up on him, humbled almost, like the feeling I ONLY get when I freshly cut the Dilluso reduced sodium turkey.
I have never been asked this question during my tenure in the deli. Up until this point no one has dared to care about the mathematical fractions in which I must deal with on a day to day basis. (as an art major mind you!)
I begin to talk slower and lower in pitch. I get caught up in the moment. Who am I? What am I? Where am I? I introduce my “sexy” voice?
“To be frank, the possibilities are endless”
You can order by the slice. You can demand 5 slices laid flat. In fact, I could hypothetically sell you single slice of the hickory smoked. Although this is a valid option, it might make you appear weak. Most customers are bit more ambitious. They shout Gimme 2 pounds of the cracked pepper! I NEED ¾ pound of sun-dried tomato. “That will do me” they boast! Why don’t you just give me a handful of the honey mesquite. Wow you have small hands, make that two handfuls.
In the past, one couple -who we only whisper about- was rumored to have ordered 15 pounds of the deli shaved ham, individually packaged. But if you want to be hip and give into social constructs, the half pound (.50) is trending right now. V popular.
“I don’t know, yeah, I think I’ll take a half pound,” he concludes without any genuine browsing of the psyche.
And that is that. It is what it is. Meat is meat.