The Dominique Ansel Bakery: A Non-Survivor’s Half-Baked Entry

We weren’t the type of girls you would find at or near the Dominque Ansel Bakery. We were more the sort you would find sitting on a random bench after a bender at Sugar Sweet Sunshine. It wasn’t supposed to happen. We just wanted a dessert, pure and simple. No frills. But when you’re in the SoHo area with that sort of craving, all you’ll be met with is the likes of Dominique Asshole. That there’s no food in general in SoHo speaks to the thin twigs with money who will only shell out for an overpriced pastry. Then again, it isn’t thin twigs you’ll see at Dominique’s so much as overly plump tourists with numerous children’s inexplicably ravenous maws to fill. And oh how many maws there are–it’s almost impossible to imagine a time in New York when you’d be shot a dirty look for even thinking of bringing a child into an establishment, least of all one geared toward the “pompous” set–though, little did said pompous set know, they’re actually the gauchest of them all. That’s what Jolie and I always knew the hazards were of venturing into the city. For there are two kinds of trash: the kind that knows and relishes they’re trash and the kind that somehow genuinely believes they are better than those “beneath” their own “social standing,” which money miraculously bought them. Strip that away, however, and they would be treated for what they are–yes, trash. Jolie knew it, and I knew it. But without money, no one would believe any truth we touted, instead preferring to listen to those with overpriced pastry pouring out of their mouths than the likes of us.

We should have been tipped off to the fact that it was going to be hell inside upon arriving at 6:30 on a Sunday, thirty minutes before closing. A strange pod person awaited us at the door, you know the type. Someone who would be seen working in an organic dog food store in Portland–“super” friendly, “super” passionate about everything and everyone, no matter how objectively unexciting. She was also one of those melba white girls with no details about her physical appearance that you would be able to recall later on. Was she blonde, brunette? Thin, fat? Who the fuck knows? She sort of just blended into the air, never to be remembered again–save for perhaps as an errant “dream extra” à la Waking Life. Jolie and I both froze in our tracks as we approached her plastered on smile. We could have been gushing blood out of our heads and her smile have would have been the same. This would have been the moment to back away, to not abandon all hope before entering. But we were committed to dessert. Maybe because it was a replacement for sex, who knows?

After being instructed to wait behind a specific marker for ten minutes, with some blithe foreigners behind us, we were given the signal. The affirmation. Allowance into so-called hallowed ground. Once inside, the vastness of the line could be fully comprehended. There were faces and shapes of all colors and sizes. Dominique Ansel discriminated against no one in terms of who it could con. And, as if on cue, as though the person walking past us stuffing their face with the shell of a chocolate chip cookie milk shot was paid to say it, we overheard, “I finally understand why people wait in line for this so long.”

Suddenly realizing that we had no strategy, Jolie suggested that we divide and conquer. I would find a table while she persisted in standing in line to order. In the recesses of the outdoor area (because places like this always have one to cultivate the feeling of a certain “experience”), I found a table. As usual, it was going to cause a scandal for Jolie and me to sit there because it was a four-top. It seemed everywhere we went, the tables were not designed for us, but either for a family or someone with more than just one friend. I sat down regardless, next to, of course, a family. Three blond children and two parents who looked the same but also could not be recalled in the same way the greeter outside couldn’t be.

When it came to businesses like these, being suddenly awash in the feeling that you were seated in the center of a trough couldn’t be shaken. With each delighted bite or slurp I could hear coming from the open mouths of the family–paired with the requisite indeterminate utterances of pleasure–I felt ever less like eating something myself. It was at that moment Jolie sent me one of her signature clipped texts of urgency. “What you want? Hurry”. In our haste, we hadn’t coordinated. I hadn’t told her what to order but I also didn’t really care at this point. It was evident that the only reason to come to Dominique Asshole was to be able to tell people that you had come here. Even though, in my mind, I could think of nothing more shameful to boast about other than a few days ago when I pissed out a condom for the third time in my life. Cardi B’s pussy doesn’t feel like a lake. Mine does. As I eyeballed the menu and texted the first thing my eye trained on–a basic chocolate eclair–she texted back. “Never mind. It’s cancelled.” My heart sank. For as upset as I was about being amid this clientele–the ilk that had made New York a caricature of what it once was–I wanted to see our journey through. God or whoever knew I was never going to come back here, and neither was Jolie. We couldn’t go through this type of harrowing ordeal again. We were too fragile for faddish baked goods.

As I contemplated remaining in my seat in the hope of willing a dessert to be beamed to me, Jolie emerged disheveled and disoriented from the inside. “Come on! We gotta get outta here!” I saw in her hand a white bag that had formed numerous grease stains all over it. I didn’t bother to ask questions as multiple parties from the crowd screamed obscenities that I had never heard before at Jolie. The cashier even chucked a prized cronut at her head as we ran out. “Don’t stop running!” she yelled as we headed down Spring Street in the direction of Greene, where she had parked the car. It’s important for people like Jolie and I to have a getaway car. She didn’t say anything until we had made it toward the Williamsburg Bridge, “Jungle Boogie” on full blast for some reason. You can always count on the radio to tailor its content to what’s going on in your life, it’s one of the universe’s great thrills.

The white bag secured on top of the parking brake in between us, I finally turned to Jolie at the stoplight to ask, “What the fuck happened in there?”

She shrugged. “I cut the line and ran out without paying.”

I stared at her in awe. “What? I couldn’t. The customers were beating me. I had to get out.”

When I looked more closely at her, I could see a handful of errant bruises forming. She had been through Dominique Asshole’s wringer. So had I. You just couldn’t see bruises as proof of someone’s ear damage. The sounds of people smacking and cooing would be with me for years.

She opened the bag and handed me an eclair, while taking out a piece of cake for herself. We both bit into our respective confections at the same time. It was at that moment the police pulled us over. We were going to be arrested for our crime against pastry humanity. And you know what? It wasn’t worth it at all.

 

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