I don’t go to Duane Reade or Rite Aide or any of the cheap drug stores–except for cheap make-up I want to try–do I really want to wear powder blue sparkling eyeshadow? Yes, damn it I do, and even in Duane Reade the sparkling eyeshadow is subtle. I call it the Sephora affect as Sephora make-up can be sort of not expensive and is usually very subtle. That’s trickled down to the type of make-up you can buy at Duane Reade or Rite Aid. Of course they deliver.
I don’t buy candles or the like there as there smells always remind me of a certain friend’s parents house and how the candles would try and cover the dog and cat pee, cigarette smoke, fatty foods and other things that make me a little sick–smell is my one perfect sense, and really only good for getting out of a gas leak and things like that. Do have to admit that came in handy the one time I actually was in a gas leak
But there’s a very lush pharmacy near my house, and it accepts insurance for prescriptions. I always tell the owner that it’s just a come on because once you walk into this un-crowded, light terrazzo tiled palace you don’t want to leave but become entranced by the candles–vanilla with fig is my current favorite; blood orange my all time favorite. There’s something about the blood orange that acts as an appetite suppressant, and smells so heavenly you just want to suck it in, and go into a trance.
When I asked the clerks about it, they said it really is an appetite suppressant but can’t be sold that way–legalities and all that. One Christmas a woman came in and bought out the stock for her staff–she said it was way cheaper than sending them to a spa or for yoga.
They also have great body and bath lotions that you can’t find anywhere else. Sometimes I become enraptured by the choices and just stand and look, like a zombie trying to fit into the real world. Sometimes I don’t even buy anything, and feel quite fine about just looking because they know that I will be back. Once a bottle of very pricey bath oil just slithered out of my hand. Anywhere else I would have felt ashamed–well okay, I did want to fall through the floor. But they were so nice, and when I offered to pay refused to take my money. That’s class; you don’t find that too many places anymore.
I’ve never broken anything in another store but could imagine how they would dress me up and down, and how I would feel like the world’s biggest fool. When I go into a Duane Reade without my discount card,I get a lecture even if I’m willing to pay full price. I suppose that could be considered looking out for my best interests, but I just want to get in and out without saying anything more than “hello, how are?” “have a nice day. Bye.”
In my pharmacy I love talking to the people who work there because we talk about the products and what’s the best that week, what candles and bath oils they like, and because they know that I”m a bath product junkie, they sometimes give me new products and ask me to tell them what I think about the candle or the oil. My first jobs were all in stores, and I’ve found myself waiting on customers because I know the bath and candle section as if I owned the store.
They do a thriving phone business, and specialize in something that people from all over the country call for–okay fertility treatments, and they also publicize adoption seminars.
The owner/pharmacy director is married to the woman who heads the cosmetic section and is a real bitch; he’s very sweet. He acts like he doesn’t know her when she’s in chief bitch mode. She lords over her department, and they make small cutting comments about the other. They don’t realize that not only does everybody know that they’re married, but it’s a subject of conversation throughout the Upper West Side and maybe all of Manhattan.
I’m constantly running into people that I haven’t seen in ages and really do want to see. It’s not like other places where you pretend that you can’t remember the person, or try running out without being seen. You actually go out for a coffee if you have time or exchange numbers and really do make the phone call. My pharmacy is almost a town center; maybe it is another version of one.
The best thing about this pharmacy is that a prescription is always ready in fifteen minutes if you say that you’re going to wait; and if you’re a regular, they’ll have the prescription or whatever you call in, almost as soon as you make the call. I love going to a pharmacy where everybody knows my name–god, when did it go from the bars, where everybody knew me name, to the pharmacy?
It feels British or New York in the ’50’s and ’60’s–the New York my father would always tell me about but I never knew until I moved to the Upper West Side and first had prescription insurance. Before that I would always go to Duane Reade the rare times I needed a prescription–so much cheaper–and I’d wait half hour just to hand it in; then another hour to get the prescription. Now I’m hooked on good pharmacies.
Whenever I go to a new city or town I search for the best pharmacy. All the good ones in Santa Monica are near Montana Avenue, and they’re nice, but none come near my pharmacy.
It makes living in a city that can seem uncivilized at times very couth, and when you’re as sick as I was this week, it made life much more pleasant. My doctor’s nurse phoned in a prescription; they knew it was an emergency and it was at my building waiting for me when I arrived home from the doctor fifteen minutes later.
That’s service; and one of the many things that make New York just another small town with an edge.