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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Welcome to the Machine

Well, hello there! You must be our new tenant! Welcome to the Vending Machine! I’m Brown & Haley Almond Roca from E4, and I head up the Community Board. It says here that you are … Oy, where is it? Here, here! You are … Nature Valley Oats ’N Honey Bar. Wow, honey, that’s a mouthful.

So, you’ll be living in Mr. Goodbar’s old place, F7? That’s a nice little place. Corner of the building. Nice apartment with only one shared wall for extra quietness. I do hope you’re the quiet type like Mr. Goodbar was. Oy, do I miss Mr. Goodbar. I get so verklempt. He passed about six months ago. What’s that? No, nothing violent or anything. Some candy bars just get old, you understand? A real mensch, anyhow. Toward the end, there, he rarely left his room. Good, good Mr. Goodbar! Oy vey!

O.K., Nature Valley Oats ’N Honey Bar, let me tell you a little bit about the building before I show you to your apartment. Now, most of what I’m about to tell you, you didn’t hear from me, O.K.? I’m not one to kibitz, you know.

The building is safe enough, especially for a young man-bar like yourself. We’ve had a few break-in attempts in the past, mostly local teenagers trying to get in through the downstairs door. Don’t worry, though. It has an automatic safety mechanism prohibiting entry above the lobby level. That usually discourages any outside thieves from getting to the first floor. Occasionally, a would-be ganif gets stuck in the door, so if you see a giant arm flailing about in the lobby, don’t plotz. Just ask the concierge, Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum, to call the authorities.

Outside, however, folks tend to be a bit more alert, particularly around the old run-down vending machine next door. It’s a breeding ground for goyim of all kinds. Whores, junkies, and tin-pot hoodlums—a cancer on our community, I say. This block used to be clean, a nice place to call home. Then along came a crack dealer called Jolt, a dirty pimp named Coca Cola Classic, and, after them, ruin. Oh! If there were any justice, they’d both be rotting away in the storage room of some godforsaken bodega! Stay away from those two, dear, unless you want you should get robbed or murdered.

Most the people around here are regular, though. Directly above you is Mounds, a longtime resident and my best friend of twenty years. You’ll just love her. Ooh, do you play mahjong? You should join the girls and me every Thursday at seven in Almond Joy’s place, C5. What’s that? Oh, don’t worry! It’s not just for us girls. Sometimes her next-door neighbor, Fig Newtons, joins us. A nice young man. (You didn’t hear this from me, but I’m pretty sure Fig Newtons is a fruitcake.)

Down this hall on your right there’s a newer tenant named Take Five. Real quiet in person, but when he goes inside, watch out! He’s an aspiring jazz pianist and—don’t tell him I said anything—not a very good one. Not that he could hear you anyway. I think he’s a little on the deaf side from all the tuml. Still, he’s a sweet sheygetz. Crunchy, too. Just knock with some force and he’ll be happy to turn down his keyboard. No need kvetching to the super.

He and most the other candy bars keep to themselves, really. Also on your floor are the Snickerses, the Kit-Kats, and the Milky Way Schvartz—just mishpoche, you know? Pretty peaceful. I’d say your floor’s got the most tranquil tenants with one exception: PayDay in F2. He’s a real meshuggene. Nuts!

The D level is where all the chips live, and boy, do they like their Manischewitz. Shickers, junkies, the lot of them. Except Pringles. He’s better-rounded than the others by nature. Anyhow, they’re mostly college students. A bit obnoxious, but harmless on the whole. We tend to just ignore them.

I’d say the level you most want to avoid is the penthouse. Cheez-its, Wheat Thins, and Triscuits all reside up there, high and mighty on their fancy A level. “Club Sodium,” they call it. Ha! They just think they’re so much better than the rest of us. Oy, the chutzpah! Awful crackers.

Speaking of sodium, I can see by your ingredients listing that you’re a bit more healthful than most the folks that live around here. Not to worry. When you’re young, people expect you to be a little different. Personally, I’m excited, but you probably already noticed my shpilkes! Oy! A real live granola head! The closest thing we’ve had to that was a Kudos Bar a while back. He didn’t last long, though. The fame went to his head.

One more thing, Nature Valley Oats ’N Honey Bar. If you hear moaning and horrible screaming coming from B5, don’t fret. The Three Musketeers like it a little on the rough side, if you know what I’m referring to. But I’m not one to kibitz.

Again, honey, welcome to the neighborhood, and mazel tov!

Eric Feezell has appeared, among other places, at McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Opium, and 7-Eleven. He can be found on the InterWeb at