The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
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Escape From Whole Foods, Part 4: The Contract

Sandra Tsing Loh continues her Whole Foods adventure.

So I had a plan: to peek INSIDE the flagship Whole Foods in Pasadena,
the largest one west of the Mississippi. And to get out without SPENDING any money.

And we have been, by and large, triumphant. Yes, my friend Jane and I became so exhausted TROLLING the second floor we FELT, upon LEAVING, that we needed to shore ourselves up with quick stop at the SURPRISINGLY reasonable WINE bar-- Just $3.99 a glass, three-fifty after five o'clock.

Factor IN the BAR snacks-- Spanish OLIVES, CUBES of Dublin CHEDDAR-- and we've BEAT the system-- We're PRINTING money-- We feel RELAXED enough now to say what we really feel about, for instance:

"HEALTH care!" Jane exclaims, swirling her glass. "Why is every story on the radio about HEALTH CARE, now? If I hear another story about HEALTH CARE, I'll scream. The more they EXPLAIN it, the less I understand it-- Health care! Health care!"

Earlier I had been aghast at the fact that Jane was visiting L.A. and the only tourist sight she wanted to SEE was not the Getty Center or Disney Hall but this big Whole Foods. In particular, the CHEESE counter--

But now I have to admit MYSELF that "This last time I visited New York?
I HAVE an afternoon off, I go to Second Stage, a GREAT theatre, to see the NEW solo show of Anna Deavere SMITH, a BRILLIANT artist. And standing in the lobby, I realize her piece is an amalgamation of American VOICES talking about, among other things, HEALTH CARE.

And I realize there's nothing I'd rather do in the world, at that moment, than walk 40 blocks NORTH to Zabar's to ogle the whitefish--"

"She was good in that Matt Damon movie, though," Jane says. "What was
it? The Conspiracy? The Package? The Contract?"

"Matt Damon movies ALL sound the same," I agree. "It's all The Papers. The Zone. The Conundrum. And then Matt Damon's FACE. Looking very concerned."

"About the Contract. That's why they call him."

At which point we realize we are tipsy and starved and can't remember what we were planning to cook for dinner, so we get twin takeout boxes and fill them with grape leaves, chickpea tabouli, fried chicken, a vegan calzone for balance, an artisanal cheese shingle, lox in a box, impulse chocolate-- and presto, we've spent $100!

"It's our OWN statement on health care!" Jane exclaims. "Look! We got something vegan! We got something vegan. . . somewhere in here."

"Health care," I agree. "Never mind Obama's new law, it's STILL expensive."