Back when I was a bright-eyed neophyte philangelus, I was equipped with a train pass, all of Manhattan, and the freedom to wander wherever I pleased as long as I walked in the door at least one minute before my mother did at 5:30.
As a result, after high school let out for the day, I could wander Manhattan exploring all the strangest nooks in what may be the most eclectic city on earth. I was uptight straight-laced enough that I didn’t get into trouble, though. Instead, I explored.
I explored the book stores, the comic stores, and boutiques the size of my bedroom and manned by surly women who spoke only enough English to tell you how much that purse cost. I found salad bars with non-identifiable foods which left you sick one time out of fifty, but which were a culinary adventure the other forty-nine times. There were the used book stores with their nasty owners and dusty smells, the secondhand music stores, the electronics shops with everything locked behind glass other than the batteries, and the sidewalk vendors who happily sold me a new (and bizarre) watch every three months, along with their piles of hair doo-dads and cheap 80s-sized jewelry.
Paradise, I’m telling you. No wonder I spent my $12 a week on crap rather than lunch!
One day I passed a religious articles shop and decided to see if they had any angel paraphernalia. I’d periodically go on an angel-hunt until I turned up a new book or a piece of artwork I’d never before seen, and this store seemed promising, what with the Virgin Mary statues in the window.
The first shelf held statues of the Blessed Virgin in many sizes and poses, and I recognized some of the standard iconography. There were also a few Saint Michael statues, but nothing that made me shiver with delight. Beside those were the rosaries, but I was rosaried-up.
I took a step further down the aisle and found myself face-to-face with an aerosol spray can of demon-repellent.
I froze solid, then very gingerly turned my eyes toward the rest of the store.
Candles that would heal your ills. Healing oils with saint names on them. Incense to entice your beloved to fall in love with you.
Oh my goodness, I thought. I’m in a Santaria store.
This week, when I told this to one of the women at the bus stop, she started laughing out loud. “You should have bought it! You could have kept it forever!”
I don’t know if you can aerosolize holy water, or what it would do to the ozone layer, although I’m amused to think of Satan standing there, lightly misted with demon-repellent and wondering what the heck just happened. It might not drive him away, but it would probably leave him flabbergasted long enough for you to make an escape. Unless it was 80s style hair-spray, in which case he might still be stuck to the floor.
Regardless, I left that store and probably ended up buying a purse big enough to hold a watermelon. Oh, those high school explorations.