>On Wednesday, I went to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which is a Holocaust and Jewish culture museum, in lower Manhattan to do some research. Upon my emergence from the subway, I looked for a food vendor from whom I could buy a carbonated diet beverage in a bottle. The first cart in my path was a hot dog purveyor. I asked for a bottle of Diet Coke.

"That's $3," he said.

"What?" There was a lot of traffic, so I figured that I didn't hear him. Who on earth would pay $3 for a 16 ounce bottle of pop? Usually, the street vendors sell such drinks for $1.75, or $2 at the most.

"Three dollars," he nodded.

I was offended. "No, that is ridiculous. I don't want it."

He shrugged, as if it were not possible for me to find a better deal. In a huff, I continued toward the museum. A Duane Reade pharmacy loomed. Ah, in the past I have purchased my chemical refreshments there for $1.79 plus tax. I went in. I nearly fell down when I saw the price rose to $1.99. Still, better than the stupid hot dog guy, and I get bonus points on my card, which eventually will get me $5 worth of goods for free.

I paid (and told the cashier about the hot dog vendor - she agreed that he was outrageously overpriced) and went on my merry way. My next obstacle was a police barricade. A metal detector was set up at the opening between gates. What the fuck? I stood for a minute before I noticed a sign routing museum visitors around the labyrinth.

At the museum, I asked the man at the admissions desk what the hubbub was about. "Oh, Ahmadinejad is staying at the hotel across the street."

"You mean the president of Iran?" I asked like an idiot.

"Yes, him."

"The one who denies that the Holocaust happened?"

He peered at me above the wire rims of his little round glasses. "Uh huh."

"He's staying across the street from the Holocaust museum?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Wow, does he pick it on purpose to poke a stick in your eye?"

"No, he's actually assigned there by the NYPD. It's the most isolated hotel, so it is easier to secure."

I felt slightly better, although it seemed wrong that the man got to enjoy the luxurious accommodations of the Ritz Carlton and not face any of the protesters. The admissions desk guy made a whaddya-gonna-do gesture, sort of like the hot dog vendor. I did my research (which was useless), and on the way out, decided to stop in the gift shop.

The clearance table in the entrance caught my eye. A book called "Letters from My Sister: On Love, Life, and Hair Removal" was on sale for $1. I thought this would be a good use for the dollar I saved from that overpriced hot dog seller. When I brought it to the counter, the shubbly cashier told me that books were two for the price of one.

"But this is only $1," I noted.

"Yes. I know this. You get another one at the same price or less for free."

Man, my refusal to overpay for Diet Coke was really turning out to be smart! I got another copy of the book. I figured that my friend would enjoy it. (It turns out that she knew one of the sisters, who directed a documentary about a corset shop on the Lower East Side. I missed it in theaters, and was quite disappointed.)

Anyway, I was very proud of my bargain. Take that, Ahmadinejad. Your absurd lies cannot stop us from telling our stories and saving money.