Friday, March 13, 2009

Temptation

My beloved little digital camera (the cheapest one available when I walked into Circuit City to buy one three years ago) bit the dust a few days ago, so I'm out of photos to write about. In the interim, I'll do my best to approximate pictures in prose without the usual 1,000 words/picture conversion.

I was out running late last night, much later than I usually go, and I was hungry. I was hungry when I left the house, and by the time I got to my halfway point along the Brooklyn Heights promenade, I was out-and-out famished. I spent the next three miles dreaming of food, of piles of pasta and sauce and cheese, big overful mugs of beer, rows of pies and cakes like a Wayne Thiebaud painting, until I was practically drooling as I came down Vanderbilt Avenue and turned east on Fulton.

And then it hit me like a cartoon anvil: the mind-numblingly delicious smell of Beigel's Bakery, which many a Clinton Hillster would immediately recognize. The aroma nearly brought tears to my eyes, and I instinctively ran towards it, turning down Waverly instead of Washington and nearly getting mown down by a passing Expedition as I blindly crossed the street to the Beigel's side. Trotting past, I inhaled deeply and turned my head skyward (does this actually improve your ability to smell or is it just something that humans do in imitation of animals?), and when I returned my eyes to the path ahead, I could not believe them: there, less than ten feet from my watering mouth, were rows and rows of freshly baked challah, steam escaping from their pans through a wide-open door and pouring into my olfactory glands. I stopped dead and stared.

Now, stealing is one of those habits or actions that people seem to come down pretty clearly on: either you don't think it's a big deal and you've occasionally lifted something yourself, or you've never even considered it and you don't think you'd steal fruit from a supermarket to survive. I'd always counted myself among the latter, but I'd never encountered fresh bread at spitting distance on a hungry run. Every possible cliche ran through my mind: "They won't miss just one loaf," "They'd never catch me anyway," "Maybe if I ask them, they'll let me have a piece." I gaped long and hard, and in so doing missed my chance to cross the line--a bearded Haisidic baker walked up and closed the door without so much as a nod in my direction.

The door, blocking both the view and the passage of steam, served by its closing to break the spell, and I ambled home to gorge on whatever I had in the fridge. Henceforth, night runs will not go by Beigel's--I don't want to be the hungry runner who nicked a loaf of bread and ended up in the Post with a horrible pun next to his mug shot.

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