A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

By Nina Pajak

I am going to America this weekend!

I can’t wait. I love that place. You know it? It’s that place between and around Los Angeles, and New York and Miami. With the state fairs and farm stands and $3 beers and little towns and smiley people and like, woods and cows and junk? It’s great.

I have family in America, Middle of. We go once a year, at which time I momentarily set aside my personal morals and political values and allow myself to run around a real, live Wal-Mart like an escaped mental patient on amphetamines.

Weeeeeeee look at this religious necktie display!

Ooooooooh a 10-pound can of lard!

Ohemgeeeeee that whole sheet cake is only $12.50. Let’s get four!

Woohoo! I need this bright orange sweatshirt with a picture of a deer on it! It’s only $8.9—ohmygod check it out the gun section is right next to the groceries!

I don’t smoke, but at bargains like this I can’t not buy this carton of cigarettes! Oh, heck, make it five.

It’s the best.

The first year we went, my mother and brother and I were wandering from section to section marveling at everything as though we’d just dropped down on the planet on an anthropological mission from the twelfth galaxy Glark. At some point, my brother found himself in the firearms department. So there he is, 6’3″, skinny, with dark, wild hair and a thick, black beard, wearing beaten up old jeans and looking like some sort of Hasidic hipster (he’s neither). He’s browsing, playing the overly casual guy who is not at all an East Coast, city-dwelling musician in the presence of an artillery for the first time in his life. I was nearby, doing roughly the same thing (only substitute writer for musician and don’t picture me with a beard). We’re cool. These are just guns. People own guns around here, pssht, to us that’s not weird or totally foreign or a little scary or anything like—

Suddenly, my brother whirls around, pointing to a glass case.


Oh, dear. He just couldn’t contain himself any longer. Roughly fifteen people who look like ZZ Top whip around to stare at us. Our cover was blown, not that it was ever anything but obvious that some of these things are not like the others (we’re those things). We made a quick exit into the neighboring section, which happened to be baby strollers. Fascinating!

Anyway, I can’t wait to see what this trip brings. I will report back!


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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