It is 10:30 at night. My children are in bed. My husband is in bed. I am in my PJs, wrapped in an oversized fluffy bathrobe, procrastinating writing.
I wander to the kitchen, rummage in the cabinets. No dried mango, no almonds. Popcorn? No. Peanut butter? Not quite what I'm looking for.
I open the refrigerator. Leftover bean soup, strawberries. Celery. Hummus. Carrots, red pepper. Condiments. Cheese and other things that my children eat.
In a single practiced movement, I close the refrigerator and open the freezer. More vegetables. Edamame. Hot dogs. Gluten free fish sticks. A loaf of bread. Lots of ice.
In the rush of cold air that escapes, it comes to me: I need ice cream.
Because I live in a part of New Jersey that doesn't think grocery stores need to be open 24 hours, our stores are already closed. And I would never show up at my grocery store dressed like this. Because people at my grocery store? Actually know who I am. Some of them by name. This is the down side of living in a small town: your cashier can judge you by your groceries. Usually my cart is filled with produce and paper goods and laundry detergent. Stocking up on Haagen Daasz? Might earn me a raised eyebrow. Showing up in my lime green coffee-cup-print lounge pants? May make people think twice about electing me to the board of ed. (See? You're looking at me funny already too, aren't you.)
The solution is clearly Wawa.
Have you not heard of Wawa? Let me tell you, young grasshopper. Wawa is a chain of convenience stores/gas stations that operate from NJ to PA to DE, but seem to cluster in central and southern NJ. They are synonymous with coffee around here, though they do compete with Quick Check (and, to a lesser extent, 7-Eleven).
Here's what I love about Wawa: opt-out anonymity. At the Wawa, you could show up every morning for the same cup of coffee, and unless you strike up a conversation with the cashier, they will never know your name. No forest-green-clad barista will ever ask you if you want your usual. And if you show up irregularly for, say, a pint of ice cream, wearing your lime green coffee-cup-print pajamas, chances are by the next time you see that person, they will have forgotten you completely. I don't think I've ever seen the same checkout person twice. Which either doesn't say a lot for the Wawa's retention of cashiers, or which suggests something more positive about the length of time between my visits to the Wawa.
When we moved here, my husband said that he wanted to find a place where we could be "regulars." I know what he means: a family restaurant where you practically have reserved seating when you walk in the door, and you are greeted by the staff by name. I also think it's important, though, to have somewhere to hide in public.
Do you have a place where you're a "regular"? Or a place where you go to be anonymous?