It’s true: i have not loved my neighbors as myself, dear Lord or Lady. Indeed, i have coveted an opportunity to kick a few on the ankle, as i’m sure You have thought of doing Yourself.
Do You make twits just to test the patience of Your creatures?
You have created one particular type of twit that, it must be admitted, is Your masterpiece in the Tempting of the Heathen Department. Yea verily, You must know to whom i refer, since You no doubt heard me cussing them on the way home from the store this morning. This would be the Urban Richerati variety of twit, a beast that considers itself uniquely privileged — because it is privileged: by elite education, by money and by cultural capital, and, we might add unkindly, by the whiteness of its hide. In these parts, the creatures are most readily observed in Scottsdale, where they assert their dominance over roads and parking lots.
Once indoors, though, they expand to fill all available space. Inside a market, they own the grocery store aisles, the grocery carts, the shelves, the produce and meat counters, the wine racks, the clerks — oh, hell, the whole damn store. Look one of them in the face, smile at the thing, and you will elicit either a blank look or a haughty sneer.
With an amazingly insensitive ultra-gentrifying upgrade of Uptown Plaza, the beloved historic shopping center at Central and Camelback, our City Parents have called in hordes of these animals, as a watering hole on the veldt calls in exotic wildlife. Middle-class stores — the eyeglass place, the upscale antique shop, and all of those — have been evicted and replaced with tiny shops selling overpriced coffee, high-decibel restaurants, ugly 1957-retro furniture in shades of battleship gray, faux-working-class clothing, and soi-disant “craft” beer. The AJ’s, formerly my favorite grocery store in the entire Valley, has been “updated” so that it looks like another bland Safeway with its carts parked inconveniently outdoors and its front generically unfriendly.
They’ve torn down the wide shade structure that used to cool the west-facing front of the store and that provided an impromptu sidewalk café, where everyone who was anyone (plus a few bums) used to hang out. Kids from the two high schools a block or so away would sit there for lunch and visit after classes ended. And the place was always full of regulars: residents who have lived in the area for decades, know each other, and liked to schmooze over coffee and sweets. AJ’s would bring out grills and ovens and serve breakfast out there on Sunday, creating quite a party.
Gone, all of them now. No longer would you want to sit there and chat: it’s glaring, noisy, and hard-edged. In a matter of weeks, they’ve converted a beloved North Central hangout into something that is cold and unfriendly. And, we might add, frequented by creatures that are not very nice people. Twits: God’s challenge to the would-be Christian’s patience.
On my way home from today’s junket to the store — probably the last junket I will ever make to those parts — a surprising thought entered my fevered little mind:
Any day I’d rather have the bums as neighbors than twits as neighbors. Any day I’d rather meet The Man Who Is Not Dog in the alley than some twit who thinks my trash isn’t good enough to be mixed in the same garbage bin as his.
Welp, I’m done with AJs. After this, when I want to shop at an AJ’s I’ll schlep across town to 44th Street and Camelback, where the Old Money still shops. Or, more likely, shop at Whole Foods, which is close to a Trader Joe’s and a Sprouts and a halfway decent Fry’s. No more hanging around the sidewalk café with a cup of coffee — too bad. But even Whole Foods’ twits are less obnoxious than the bunch that convenes at Central & Camelback.
But…dear Lord or Lady, whichever You are: what exactly are You trying to tell me? Go down to AJ’s, buy out the store, and haul all the stuff up to the food bank? Stash a Tuft & Needle mattress in the alley, along with a tarp to protect my neighbor from the rain? It’s not working, Ma’am: at this rate i’ll never be a good Christian. Maybe i’ll come to love The Man Who Is Not Dog and all our other meth-using, lost sufferers…but i’m sorry, dear God: these twits of Yours, i’ll never come to love. Certainly not as myself.