>One of the many wonderful things about living in New York City, or at least Manhattan anyway is a zoning regulation that requires the presence of a 24 hour bodega/deli/small grocery on the corner of at least every five blocks. OK, this is not really a zoning requirement, but one might get that impression because of how many corner stores there are here. While usually overpriced, they have their important uses, whether for an emergency package of sugar at 2 am or a bagel and cream cheese any time of the day.

Back in the quaint ‘90s, when our president’s worst misdeeds involved cheating on his wife rather than starting unwinnable wars with countries that did not attack us, opening secret prisons and torture chambers in foreign countries, kidnapping people, and shredding the Constitution while patting our heads and telling us it is for our own protection, I was a student at NYU. I lived in a dorm that had formerly been a hotel that housed Mark Twain, which was located on the corner of 5th Avenue and 10th Street. Within a two block radius from my dorm lived such luminaries as Matthew Broadrick and Sarah Jessica Parker, Richard Gere, and Ricki Lake.

Anyway, my favorite deli was also within this two block radius, and one evening Dr. P, her roommate (and our friend at the time) The Evangelical, and I decided we were in desperate need of reinforcement sustenance, having previously eaten an unsatisfactory dinner of dorm sludge. We walked over to University Place and 9th Street to grab some goodies. While we were ordering, The Evangelical grabbed our arms and excitedly whispered, “Look! There’s Richard Gere!”

The way delis often work is that a customer will order his or her sandwich or bagel by the deli counter, and when it is ready, the sandwich guy takes the food directly to the cashier without first passing it to the customer. Hence, we got in line behind Richard Gere and his woman friend (who was, in my opinion, way too young for him) to pay and waited for the food. When The Evangelical’s bagel arrived at the register, the cashier began to ring it up with Richard Gere’s grapes.

“Oh, this isn’t mine,” Gere told the cashier. He held the bagel up and turned to us. “Is this yours?” he asked The Evangelical. She nodded, struck speechless for the moment by the dazzling white teeth Gere exposed in a smile as he queried her. “What kind is it?” he asked for no particular reason.

“It is toasted sesame with butter,” our friend replied. “You see, I wanted chicken soup, but they didn’t have any, so I asked if they had cinnamon raisin, but they were out, and I really needed comfort food because blah blah blah,” our friend babbled on nervously.

Richard Gere nodded, took his grapes and young thing, and said good night. We giggled and giggled and giggled that Richard Gere not only spoke to our friend, but he handled her aluminum foiled bagel.

I always thought that it would have been nice of him to pay for it though.