Joseph always finds himself in search of the authentic.
The building he walked into acted as a cafe, antique shop, and “farmer’s market.” By the sign on the door he imagined fields of farm hands hauling in the day’s harvest, and these quaint baskets by the doors being stacked neatly with the fruits of their labor.
“Made in the USA,” stated a red, white and blue striped sign above the shiny apples. A sticker stuck uniformly to each apple read “Washington.” This building was located in Upstate New York. The bananas beside the Washington apples, Joseph concluded, were surely not from these parts. There was no patriotic sign above the bananas. It was a farmer’s market, the sign was not a lie, but Joseph felt tricked.
Antiques hanging in the cafe section were for sale. Wood lathes and saws hung over the tables of retirees sipping on refills of drip coffee served in Styrofoam cups. Signs reading “Home Is Where The Heart Is” and “Donut and Coffee 5 Cents” cluttered the walls in the hallway leading to the bathrooms. They too were for sale. Each sign looked old but in peculiarly new condition. Joseph thought this illusion comically the reverse of tables of retired woman in the cafe who dressed like teens and wore make-up to appear 20 years younger.
The backs of the signs had golden stickers declaring “Made in China.” Joseph laughed out loud when he imagined a factory of Chinese villagers hand painting signs reading “Donut and Coffee 5 Cents.” Did they think a donut and coffee were five cents in the US? Were some workers scheming ways to immigrate to a country where a coffee break only cost a nickel?
Joseph could laugh at these things, but it often depressed him. Seeing a saw hanging on the wall of an antique shop saddened him similarly to the time he saw a carrier pigeon stuffed and awkwardly posed in flight at the Natural History Museum.