1. Yoga meditation, to obtain a state of Nirvana before entering.
2. Steel-toed construction shoes (absolutely NO flip-flops or sandals) to prevent
your toes from getting crushed.
3. A large steel grocery cart (bring your own, if possible) to act as a buffer between your shins and the senior citizens (in town from N.Y. and hunting for quality for pennies) who use theirs as bumper cars. This will also allow you
to block the itsy-bitsy aisles so you won't have to try to pass the market's
mini-carts left helter-skelter wherever there is a free sample.
4. An appreciation of the martial arts, since you might catch FREE OF CHARGE a fist fight between a driver waiting for someone to back out and a newcomer who outhustles him for the same space.
5. Infinite patience with the cashiers, who have been trained in hand-to-hand combat and supercilious attitudes.
6. A translator to understand the myriad food samples the Mexican employees offer you inside.
7. A book of N.Y. slang expressions (with phonemes, if possible). If the visiting seniors TELL you to move your cart over, you will be able to understand them to give an appropriate reply.
8. An IPOD so you can disregard the previous item.
The Boys Farmer's Market is a permanent structure with year-round indoor market. It's been open since 1988, when the father from (guess where?) New York City chose the location. The sons have continued the operation, while next-door, The Girls Strawberry Patch (the daughters?) sells gifts and allows picking. At least the rows of strawberries are maneuverable there!
If you should survive the parking lot (do NOT park near the entrance!), you enter a space where 350 people are crammed into what should hold 100. It's a maze. To the right is the bakery, with mile-high cakes and pies, though no bargain! If you are tempted by a slice of their famous raisin walnut bread, you must pull your cart off to the side to sidle over to inspect. Suddenly you feel your elbow jostled and a white-haired couple wedges in front of you to shout their order to the clerk, who is still wrapping a dozen eclairs. Why are these retirees in such a rush? I'm a retired senior citizen, too! Where do they have to go but home, to reheat the prepared meals they'll pick up here - if they get through the one-way maze to the rear of the store?
BEST cheese, tomatoes, fresh-cut fruits, lamb, steaks, international foods, and killer fresh-squeezed juice!! But if there's a deal that seems too good to be true, check the expiration date. The package may expire in two days!
If you succeed, without bleeding shins, in reaching the lettuces at the far end of the maze, you begin to congratulate yourself. The golden fleece (cashier's counter) is within sight! But not so fast! You have now entered The Twilight Zone, where shoppers take on strange personalities.
At the end of each produce aisle is a five-foot open space before cashiers' counters begin. In this space, produce shoppers are making the turn to get down the next aisle. It is also the space where The Smugs (those who have finished) have taken up residence. Since there is only room for three mini-carts in each check-out line, The Smugs spill into each other, while the unfortunates still shopping must cut through them to the next aisle.
Choosing the right check-out line is crucial! You must count the number of items in both carts ahead of you and judge if the shoppers look intelligent (will pay rapidly) and can speak English. There is no retreat and no turning around!
On my last venture to The Boys (six months ago), a shopper had placed all her items on the conveyor belt. Suddenly, a hand flew over her mouth. "I forgot the wine from Argentina," she said and somehow managed to wedge herself out of the line to run off.
The Smug behind her (in front of me) spewed Italian. "Santa Maria! Non e possible!" She made rapid hand gestures and got louder and louder.
I was the last of the three in the line. There was no room to turn around to join another. The line for the next register was at my hip. I smiled sweetly at the Italian and shrugged my shoulders. I prayed the Argentinian wine was in stock!
The cashier glared at the inconsiderate shopper when she returned. "You have held up my line!" she lectured. "Next time, bring a list and a pencil!"
"That won't help," I blurted out. "You'll get run over if you try to read it!"