Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Tower of Bagel


Morning worshippers fill the aisles. Fluorescent candles, holy sparkling water, stained glass stain remover. Little wire baskets which symbolise the suffering of the saints. This is our globalised religion. All the faithful must be departed by ten pm, eight on Sundays, because Sundays are more holy than other days.

There is an ache inside of me. A longing. All the life and activity of the city has been condensed into this place and this moment. I am hungry; I am in a supermarket. The world does not get any more primal than this. Time expands and contracts mystically.

I am approaching the dairy section. It's colder there, like in space. My eyes can already feel the chill. If I buy a bagel I will want soft cheese, but if I pick up the soft cheese now and there aren't any bagels left, I will have to walk all the way back here and return the soft cheese to the shelf. My dilemma threatens to freeze me in an endless logic loop, like in a 1980s computer programming language.

10 If breakfast = bagel THEN goto 20
20 buy softcheese
30 If bagel = soldout THEN goto 40
40 return softcheese
50 goto 10



I decide to risk it, and if they don't have bagels in stock, I'll take the soft cheese home now and I'll come back later for the bagel.

But now that the soft cheese is in my hand, I realise that I must have a bagel. Leaving the supermarket without a bagel would be the worst thing I could possibly do in the next ten minutes. The city must provide a bagel. That's what cities are for. I put up with their shit because I know there will be a bagel for me when I need one. And boy, do I need one now. Picking up the soft cheese got my brain pumping chemicals faster than being in love, or scoring a goal. I'm almost frantic in anticipation of the bagel - cut in half, lightly heated in the microwave, smeared with soft cheese, washed down with a healthy swallow of Earl Grey.

I walk with head bowed in the direction of the bread products section of the church. It smells like hot fresh bread and sweet sacred incense. It fills up my senses. My tongue licks the edges of my lips. My throat feels warm already. The mantra-prayer brings some relief:

I must have bagel. Bagel is the wheat-giver. Bagel is the little snack which brings total satisfaction. I will eat my bagel.

And behold! The city has provided a multitute of bagel! A legion of bagel! A tower of bagel! And although within a few hours I'll hate the city more than ever, it will be a regretful hate, for the city has given me what I wanted. It always gives me what I want, though never what I need.

I pay at the altar, and tap my stomach. This is my body.