Early 2002, Queens, NYC, Sunday morning
No matter what else, Nancy’s wedding shower would be swimming in food. She was a thirty-year-old marathon runner who still savored her Bronx Dominican heritage and with it, her family’s obsession with eating. We once sat with her in a Queens diner, our table covered in plates and platters, laughing, watching her pour syrup on pizza, watching her eat carrot cake and eggs in the same bite. We tried to keep pace with this woman’s appetite. And for a while we did. Later I realized the detail I so stupidly overlooked; that Nancy was also an athlete, that she had zero body fat, that calories washed through her like water on a waxed car. So while she digested the 4000 calorie meal in an afternoon, I still have portions of it stored in long-term fat.
There had been a Costco run the night before to stockpile snack options. As the guests began arriving, I began the chore of smearing cheese across slices of gourmet bread. But then I felt a strange bump. Something metallic? After a quick excavation I realized I was holding a rusty razor blade. It was small, folded in half, and had been buried inside the bread. I dumped the bag on the counter and found several other razor blades burrowed throughout. I quietly grabbed my wife instructing her to follow me into the kitchen. Do we call the police? Do we tell everyone?
But we just couldn’t disrupt the event like that. We decided to serve the remaining (highly scrutinized) snacks to her guests. The bread was hidden in a drawer, all the buttered pieces dumped in the garbage. After the party dispersed, we took the bag straight to the police. It did not go as expected.
“We found razor blades in this bag of bread,” I announced dangling the bag in front of me.
Two officers perched in folding chairs stared at me briefly, then one of them asked with a smile, “Did you call the store?”
“Yes I called the store! They didn’t seem to care.”
“Well, what do you want us to do about it?”
“Yeah. This sounds like an issue between you and the store.”
“The bread has razor blades embedded in it. The blades were folded in a half and wedged inside the slices. Clearly someone is trying to kill people.”
“You need to talk to the store.”
“So you don’t care about this?”
Costco handed the matter over to a public relations person who said, “The bread came from Zabars. You need to call them.”
So we called Zabars.
“What do you want from us?”
“I want you to stop putting razor blades in your bread.”
“We don’t put razor blades in our bread.”
“Then why did we find three of them in a loaf of yours at Costco?”
“You need to talk to Costco.”
“They told us to talk to you.”
Eventually Costco mailed us a form letter saying we could replace the bread provided we agreed not to sue them.
We should have alerted the media, but we didn’t want to create a spectacle. This was only months after 9/11 and the arsenic letter thing and the roadside assassins in Virginia. These people feed on attention. We denied them the pleasure. May they rot in hell.
Nancy has three kids now and lives in Atlanta where she’s been wildly successful in her sales career. She still has zero body fat.
You may enjoy listening to this interview Nancy and her husband did for an Atlantic public radio station about their autistic child. It’s heart-wrenching and amazing: http://pba.org/post/storycorps-dexter-hardy-nancy-perez