What to do on MLK Day (2 cents)

I remember when Martin Luther King Day was the day we did something worthwhile. We’d go to memorial programs, we’d think good thoughts. Something.

Today, we went to a thrift shop in Fairfax County, a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch, and the Great Wall Chinese Super Market. Is this a bad sign, that we are, as they say, forgetting the reason for the season? Or is it a good sign that the holiday has become so much a normal part of the American calendar that we no longer feel the need to make sure we do something special?

Or did we do something special? The Unique Thrift Store on Gallows Road was having a 50% off MLK Day sale on all merchandise. This is an enormous store, and was very crowded. We went because a friend of ours lives near the store and suggested it as an excursion. I believe that between my wife and me, we bought over 20 items of clothing (all very nice, thank you), and paid a total of $50. I don’t know much about Unique Thrift, which has several stores in the Washington area. I do not believe that they are connected with a charity, but I might be wrong. But, in any event, they seem to have quite a business model, although finding something out about them using good old, reliable Google is harder than you might think.

Having wandered through the clothing, books, records, CDs, furniture and household goods for an hour or more, we walked over to the Four Sisters, a very (emphasize that word) good Vietnamese restaurant, where the tofu, lemongrass chicken, squid and vegetables, spring rolls and green papaya salad were top notch. For entertainment, I watched the two people eating at the next table – a man about, I would say, 70, short and rotund, and a woman maybe in her late 50s, short and probably on her way to rotundity, ate what looked like a very nice meal (I do not know what their relationship was – maybe spouses, maybe brother/sister, maybe even father/daughter), and drank to the very bottom a full bottle of red wine (they started the wine before noon, which when we arrived), and then asked the waiter for some more wine, which they got. Hope they are still alive.

The Great Wall grocery store is in the same shopping mall as the thrift shop. It is a very large store, obviously dedicated to an Asian clientele. Variety of greens – enormous. Types of mushrooms – towards infinity. Types of fish – more than in any of the fish markets or supermarkets in our part of town. And on, and on, and on. Yes, it is not glitzy, and the aisles are too narrow and the checkout lines look like Grand Central at rush hour. But the prices are good, everything looked fresh, and the variety of virtually every type of food was enormous. We didn’t buy much; this was an exploration. We bought some mushrooms, some tofu and dried persimmon (it might be our only chance to get dried persimmon), but thought we might go back and try to be a little more serious about it.

So, did we do justice to Martin Luther King Day? (I know the answer to that one. Don’t rub it in.)


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