Atrocities in Public Decorum: Fingernail Clipping in Whole Foods

Clip Clip Clip went her nail clippers in front of me.

Bang Bang Bang went his cell phone next to me.

I sat in the middle of Whole Foods on Bowery Street, sipping a Jamba Juice, transfixed by atrocities in public decorum.

STOP STOP STOP! Is this seriously happening? 

The seating area in this Whole Foods is expansive but often crowded. After purchasing my Pumpkin Smash smoothie (sure to end its seasonal run any day now), I was pleased to find a comfortable spot available. A couch in their cafe seating area, surrounded by a couple of potted plants. The man on my left was nose deep in a serious looking book, the woman on the other end of the couch pouring over her cell phone. I sat down, opened my laptop, and figured I’d get some good writing done.

Lost in ideas, typical parentheticals, striving for witty quips, I was totally successful. So immersed I didn’t even notice the woman I was sharing my couch with get up and leave. I was close to two paragraphs when my peaceful writing sanctuary burst.

“I just downloaded games all day! I keep downloading these games. Don’t know what I’m doing with my life but I got all these games,” a man spoke loudly as he piled bags and coats onto the couch I was sitting on. It sounded like he was muttering to himself, but I looked up and saw he was accompanied by a woman. She wasn’t contributing much to the conversation though. “Motherfuckers keep getting me downloading this shit.”

You don’t expect M-F bombs at Whole Foods. Okay, maybe if you told a Whole Foods shopper that you prefer your eggs caged and your produce pesticide riddled. Maybe then you’d expect a shake of the head, a muttering of, “You’re a crazy motherfucker to not eat only organic strawberries.” Even then chances are the “motherfucker” would not be spoken aloud, just crystal clear in subtext.

I was jarred by the casual and continual use of such language, but this in NYC, it wasn’t enough to make me get up and leave my comfy seat. They’ll settle down, shut the fuck up, and the conducive-to-creativity atmosphere will resume. I was optimistic. This is NYC, a place I’ve called home for six years, and I’m still naive enough to be optimistic.

As soon as the man ceased uttering explosive language he was on his phone, playing a game with violent explosive sounds. You don’t play games with the sound on in public in this town. You just don’t do it. With 8 million people on such a small land mass, there’s just no space for this kind of thing. Everyone knows it, nobody does it. Except this weird motherfucker I was stuck sharing a couch with in Whole Foods.

The woman spoke, “Honey, do you want some tea? Are you hungry? Anything?”
“No I’m good,” came the reply over a round of machine gun sound effect. Up until this point I had only listened, trying to force myself back into my computer, away from distraction. From everything I had overheard of their interaction, it was clear these people were a couple. When I looked up I was surprised.  She was kind of dumpy, looked maybe a decade older than him. He wasn’t bad looking, probably in his late 30s. He wore a baseball cap, she wore wire rimmed glasses. When she opened her mouth I looked up and noticed she had teeth missing.

She removed herself to a chair across from him, made herself comfortable while he stayed glued to his game. I settled back into my writing. Hooray.

Again I was a fool to hope. Because then this happened. Clip, Clip, Clip.

I looked up. She was sitting, a nail clipper pulled out on a key chain, clipping her fingernails.

Screen shot 2014-11-25 at 5.29.51 PM
And I whipped out my phone and snapped a shot! Photographic evidence- this REALLY happened! In Whole Foods!

In the middle of Whole Foods. In the middle of New York City. Even the few people who are jerks about turning off their cell phone sound don’t do that.

I had to laugh. My mind jumped immediately to, “This bitch has a boyfriend and I don’t!?” Hey, it gives you hope right? There’s someone for everyone goes the cliché. Boy does this story illustrate just that. I fully intend to use it at Thanksgiving dinner if my relationship status enters into the conversation. What I’m not sure is how exactly I’ll use it. Should I go with:

A. “See? There’s someone for everyone! I just haven’t found him yet! The guy who will love my quirks (which are so much better than public nail clipping!)!”


About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

9 thoughts on “Atrocities in Public Decorum: Fingernail Clipping in Whole Foods

  1. If you want to keep calling NYC home then it is The Bowery, no New Yorker would ever say Bowery Street….and anyway the whole foods is on Houston.
    Keep up the blog, it is fun and hope you do keep calling it home.

  2. All of a sudden I was rudely awakened out of my laptop by what sounded like the sound of Smashing Pumpkins. I looked up and couldn’t help but notice a really cute redhead sitting at a table nearby. As you can already tell, I’m not one for details, especially when surrounded by my laptop or the sight of a beautiful woman. So I never did get what all the fervor was about until moments later I noticed some dude really losing it over his iPhone followed by what seemed like a blitz of cyber war games that seemed to startle everyone around. Obviously not intelligent enough to engage in cyber warfare. Just cyber war games. You know the “harmless” video kind. But enough of that. I’ll pontificate on the harm being done our children and what they will grow up into later on, whether Ferguson Missouri cops or ISIS fighters, on another occasion. Suffice to say, I was thoroughly amused by the overstimulation I was getting on my day in this, my old hometown, and this in a space of a few minutes. It just doesn’t inundate you all at once like this in the quiet New Jersey town I moved to. And that’s, I decided, what I love so much about New York. It’s changed so much from the city I remember, and the technology has made it a really 3-cubed (that’s 27)-dimension experience. I LOVE IT!
    As the commotion seemed to calm down, I tried vainly to return to my important work at my computer but it was hopeless. I started to think about the beautiful girl sitting there and wondering if she was available since she was alone, though ensconced in her tablet (thank goodness, so she wouldn’t see me staring; I have an unconscious habit of trying to avoid eye contact with beautiful women ever since the beautiful girl in the 5th or whatever grade gave me a cold look and muttered, “What are you looking at?!”, sending my heart down crashing), probably texting her boyfriend, I figured, or one of her cell flirt-mates (that’s cyber flirt-mates, whatever terminology floats your boat or launches your rocket), or whatever—maybe she was a writer too like me; hey that would be a good conversation opener. But it was all speculation and I was all non-nerve and overnervous about talking to this apparent New York sophisticate so I buried my head in my shell-top (that’s laptop), rationalizing that it was the right move.
    As I finished my lunch and got up to go, I happened to notice an older woman sitting next to the man whose martial and unruly habits had rubbed me the wrong way clipping her nails with an old fashioned nail clipper holder (not that I had ever seen anything like that before) and concluded as I walked out the store that I must have seen three generations and 80 years of experience before my eyes in that short span of lunch, past, present and future all rolled into one New York moment. Totally satisfying and glad I don’t have to live among it.
    And then it started to gnaw at me like a bad pang: Why didn’t I sit down next to that beautiful woman and start a conversation? Shit! I told myself. I had gone and done it again. I considered going back there but she would probably be long gone and, most likely to someone as sophisticate and gorgeous as her, totally lacking in taste. And the gnaw grew as the day did, me determining, though with little self-belief, not to pass up the next potential opportunity.
    Marc Ginsburg recently posted…Compassionate Remonstration To An SGI MemberMy Profile

  3. I was once asked what the grossest place in NYC is. One may think the subway, bathrooms in the subway…even the subway elevators. But I disagree. My answer has always been the dining hall at Whole Foods on 59th Street. Seriously, sketchiest characters EVER in there, doing the dirtiest little things! Gahhhh! Even walking through gives me the shivers.

    Thanks for the proof;-)

    p.s. happiest Thanksgiving!
    Jess @UsedYorkCity recently posted…Happy Thanksgiving!My Profile

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