An International Incident at the UN… Plaza
Emotions were running high on the aptly named UN Plaza. Africa was readying for battle with Asia, and it was over… artisanal bread. Africa was represented by a broad bald man with soft cultured accent, wearing an African print shirt and an exasperated frown. Asia was a tiny, bird-like older Chinese lady; her eyes were black and shiny and full of a child’s guile in her wrinkled face. She wore comfortable once-white sneakers, a turquoise visor and a fanny pack. She held her arms close, in front of her body, her fingers at the ready like a Jurassic Park Velociraptor.
It was around 5:00pm. I had just left work and was stopping at the farmer’s market on my way home when I unknowingly entered this international incident in the making.
“The Rosemary and olive bread please,” I asked the man in the African print shirt. He got my bread off of the rack and slid it into a bag for me, all the while staring at the little old Asian lady who had sidled off to the left of his rack. He stopped reaching for my money and instead, slowly and deliberately, placed his hand over his bread in front of Asia.
“Don’t touch the bread!” he said harshly. I must have shown my surprise on my face because he instantly explained: “She’s been poking and touching my breads, my buns, my cakes. No one wants to buy misshapen, poked bread. She won’t buy it, she just wants to touch it and ruin it. She knows what she is doing is wrong and yet if I turn my back for an instant- Hey!”
As he spoke to me, Asia made her move. She darted in from behind me and with a savage little poke of her forefinger, smushed a corner of a cinnamon bun. She glanced around and saw that Africa was watching. She grinned a feral little grin.
“Peh!” she said. She lifted up her forefinger and straightened it.
He moved to intercept.
Her finger flew towards the bun once again. Poke poke poke! She got three strong, bread misshaping pokes before with a snarl, the man managed to move the tray away from her. She moved back slightly, and then whipped around to the other side of his stall and away, her little feet rapidly shuffling on the stone. Once she knew she was safe she stopped and patted her fanny pack. Pretending nothing had just happened she wandered over to a fruit stand, whose owner, having witnessed the exchange, was moving the peaches.
“You have a nice day,” Africa growled at me. He looked sadly at his deformed, fingered cinnamon bun. I looked bemused at his deformed, fingered cinnamon bun. Should I intervene, buy the bun, to smooth over this capitalistic clash in the market?
“You too.” The American, no longer staying true to her role in world politics, was grateful to extricate herself.