Dear Amy, Abby, Ann, Dan Savage, Mrs. Butterworth or anyone else who wants to offer advice:
I've been rejected, and I don't know how to deal with the feelings of anger, impotence, unworthiness and impending inconvenience.
It wasn't a person that gave me the cold shoulder. That, I could handle. We all know how people can be, and if someone tells me, "It's not you. It's me," I'm going to choose to believe them.
Instead, I've been rejected by a corporation, which, the Supreme Court ruling of 2010 notwithstanding, is still, in my eyes, not a person.
Specifically, this nonperson is a supermarket chain, Roundy's, the owner of Mariano's. It jilted me in favor of people in 11 other Chicago and suburban locations, and it has taught me that our relationships with our grocery stores are a little more emotional and a lot more complicated than I would have thought.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, popular advice-givers.
You see, my local Dominick's, like those throughout the region, is closing. Almost everybody I know in Oak Park grumbled about the Dominick's. The lines were too long and the cashiers too few. The prices at the register didn't always match the prices on the shelf. The meat department was an option of last resort, behind even forest preserve deer and attic squirrel.
But still, there it was, with plenty of lighting and shelves full of groceries, with a halfway decent produce and bakery department — and with lots of nice people working there who faced losing their jobs.
Whatever its flaws, it was way better for our community and our caloric needs than, say, a big empty building with locked doors. Or another townhouse development.
Something in the realm of food provisioning needed to take its place. And like a whole lot of other people in Oak Park, I had my heart set on Mariano's.
You've heard of Mariano's right? It's the rapidly expanding grocery store chain that Chicago foodies gush about.
How could I not develop a schoolboy crush on a store with such widespread word-of-mouth adoration, one that has a piano player and offers, its website says, "a neighborhood shopping environment filled with amenities like an Italian coffee shop serving authentic gelato, a wood-fired pizza oven, and sit down sushi bar."
Gelato! Pizza cooked without electricity! A sushi bar at which you do not have to stand! It sounds just like Eataly, minus the chaos.
I would have shopped Mariano's zealously and until the end of my days. I would have forsaken, for the most part, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and not only because they are way over on the other side of town.
To secure a Mariano's, I would have even offered my version of the kinds of ridiculous concessions municipalities make when they court businesses: I would have pledged to pay full price rather than waiting for the sale and to never try to get through the express lane with an 11th item.
And if I knocked over, say, a box of specialty pasta from Italy, lovingly selected by Mariano's Italian specialty pasta team, I would have put it back on the shelf in exactly the right spot.
But Mariano's, when it agreed to purchase 11 closing Dominick's stores early this month, did not include ours on the list.
I was crushed, like a succulent plum tomato pummeled by old-world craftsmen and put into cans for export.
Mariano's had dashed the hopes of me and my 52,000 Oak Park neighbors, plus all the people on the city's nearby West Side for whom Dominick's had become essential, especially since our Aldi turned into a park district gymnastics facility.
The chain said, in effect, that it didn't want our soon-to-be-empty shell of a building, already set up to be, you know, a grocery store.