The New York Times column. Modern Love: When a wedding has to close up shop

When my father came home at night, he was often tired and grumpy. But sometimes he would bring back in his old-fashioned briefcase, nestled between two notepads, big bags of candies – or, often, chocolates – for my brother and me. On those days he’d shopped at Duane Reade’s during his lunch break and stuffed himself with sweets to relieve his stress, or so I imagined. There are worse vices.

We didn’t have a Duane Reade in our neighborhood – we lived in La Nouvelle-Rochelle [dans la banlieue nord de New York], and my father worked in Manhattan. So when I was little, I imagined this chain of drugstores as a candy paradise – and my father’s favorite place.

Banal and essential

It wasn’t until years later, when I moved to New York for college, that I discovered for myself the thrill of browsing Duane Reade’s shelves: the stacks of little pastel-colored sugar eggs that announce the arrival of spring, the toothbrushes sheltered behind plexiglass panes that announce the presence of shoplifters, the nail polishes in colors that I have never dared to buy, and the earrings cheap that earned me compliments to which I proudly replied: “They come from Duane Reade!”

A few years later, I learned that the chain took its name from the location of the very first store, installed between Duane Street and Reade Street, in lower Manhattan.

The brand sells all kinds of everyday products that end up in the trash, in the recycling bin, or at the bottom of the toilet. Ordinary but essential products: self-adhesive brushes, deodorant, greeting cards, magazines, school supplies, vitamins…

[L’enseigne m’a sauvé la mise] when I had headaches, a scratchy throat, or the day my husband had an allergy attack after a cab ride through Central Park during cherry blossom season. He had spent the entire journey with his head stuck out the window. He looked like a wriggling Golden Retriever, but he was a man. My man.

A common loyalty card

We separated in 2016. We had no children or a house of our own, and little money to spare. We were spinning the perfect love, then everything went downhill. In the end, we didn’t even share our meals anymore. But one thing survived: our joint loyalty account at Duane Reade, the kind that earns points and discounts. It’s such an anecdotal detail, so insignificant, that I always forget its existence, until it’s time to checkout. At that moment, boom, beep, and the receipt arrives in my mailbox.

My ex-husband now shops at the Duane Reade near his home. He no longer goes in our Duane Reade, since there are no more we (except for our common loyalty card). As I also get se

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The New York Times column. Modern Love: When a wedding has to close up shop


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