Here in lovely downscale Glendale, I recently stumbled upon a mom-and-pop donut shop in a humble strip mall.
Contrary to outward appearances, I don’t eat a lot of donuts. But I got a hankerin’ for ’em, ironically, during my one week of walking a picket line at the beginning of the writers’ strike. Nothing lifts your spirit on the line like some Krispy Kremes.
Anyway, I stepped into this neighborhood donut shop, right? And what I saw there stopped me in my tracks. Behind the counter was a wall full of cigarettes for sale.
Yes, cigarettes. In a damn donut shop. Who ever heard of such?
Now, I’ve been messing around with smoking for the past couple of years, and I’m embarrassed about that... disappointed in myself. So this moment brought forth a rush of emotions.
“You want donut?”
A small Asian woman behind the counter looked at me blankly.
“What’s with those?” I asked, pointing behind her. “What’s with the cigarettes?”
“You want cigarette? What kind you want?”
“No no no... I’m saying, you sell cigarettes and donuts? Why not just paint a skull and crossbones on the front door?”
She continued to look at me, expressing nothing.
“I mean, do you sleep well at night? You’re selling death here. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease...” I just couldn’t hold my tongue. “The only thing missing is guns. You sell guns too?”
“You no want donut?”
“It ain’t about me. I’m talking about you,” I said. “Cigarettes and donuts don’t even go together! Was life so bad in Pusan or wherever the fuck you come from, you had to come here and sell this shit?”
Her face didn’t change. She just said, “You want donut?”
I sighed and wiped my brow.
“Yeah,” I said, “give me an old-fashioned glazed and an old-fashioned chocolate. And a pack of Cigarettellos... the Nat Shermans in the red box. Yeah, those.”
As I walked out, a voice behind me called out musically: “See you again soooon.” I turned around. The Asian woman was smiling.