Tuesday, March 20, 2007

staying, part 1

if it’s true that only the dull are brilliant at breakfast, an axiom is that only the truly dull are brilliant in the grocery store before breakfast on a sunday morning. that’s why i eschew all communication, shop in a fog and just shove my debit card at the zingo’s cashiers when they cheerfully sing out my total.

but then there are the lonelyhearts, the desperate old people that emerge from their bedsits on a sunday morning and i swear just roll prop carts around the aisles for hours, striking up inane conversations with likely-looking victims. then they ditch the carts and go to church, probably, where they have more inane conversations with god.

at the entrance to zingo’s early sunday morning, i found myself trapped behind a large, pear-shaped elderly gentleman. he was wearing an obnoxiously bright DuPont Jeff Gordon jacket -- a DuPont pensioner, maybe, or a big NASCAR fan, or both. he’d just accosted a red-vested manager and was telling him what a great job zingo’s did clearing the parking lot after friday’s ice and snow and how was that possible with all those shopping carts floating around.

move it big guy, some of us got places to go - i thought, because i couldn’t maneuver my cart around his ample hips. when he did move along, he did so ponderously, rocking from side to side like a boat anchored in the bay.

i was searching for fennel when he rolled into the produce area. “jenny was a friend of mine” was playing, and a couple stockboys were nodding their heads in time and chatting.

- you like this music? – Pear Man asked them. they once-overed him, then nodded. – it’s interesting. who is the group? what are they called?

- the killers – one replied. Pear Man was taken aback.

- the killers. imagine that. i do like the bass line, though. i used to play bass. do either of you play instruments? - he moved aside as i excused myself past him, shrinking under his slightly wall-eyed gaze, hoping he wouldn’t say he was getting the band back together and was i in. i fled to the juice aisle, and from then on, whenever i peered down an aisle and spotted his rocking hulk, i’d skip that aisle. i did notice that he’d acquired a cart with a bag of potatoes, ground beef and burger buns.

the next victim i saw was a kid stocking frozen pizzas. he was wearing a bright orange Clemson football jacket, and Pear Man went straight for him like a slavering dog to a meaty bone. serves you right, i thought; you don’t see me wearing a Planned Parenthood tee.

Pear Man launched his sally.

- i like your jacket. – Stockboy smiled at him. a genuine smile.
- thanks. so do i. are you a Clemson fan?
- i went to school there. i didn’t play football, but i went to every game i could. that was back in the days of Gary Barnes. have you heard of him?
- heard of him?? his jerseys are still up in McFadden. he’s a legend, man. you were lucky to see him play.
- he was my roommate freshman year. his mother made wonderful oatmeal cookies.
- no shit. that’s awesome.

Stockboy moved away. making an escape, i thought, but no, just moving to the frozen vegetables.

- was he a cool guy? Barnes? – he asked over his shoulder. Pear Man paused before answering.
- yes, yes he was. he could be very quiet, but when he spoke you knew he had carefully considered whatever he was saying. he’s a judge now, you know.

a well-coiffed, attractive woman approached Pear Man and placed a hand on his shoulder. she indicated the frozen spinach soufflé she was holding.

- do you think Sam and Jody would like this, or just peas & carrots?
- oh that, definitely. Sam’s always the one for spinach.
- good - she said, dropping the box into the cart. - are we done here?
- i think we’re done. – Pear Man agreed.

the block of butter i’d been pretending to study was getting soft around the edges. i stole a glimpse as Pear Man and his wife passed by, and he offered me a serene, if somewhat quizzical, half-smile.


addon said...

lovely story finn told with your usual panache. the old folk have been there and done that ... the stories we can tell (i am one of course).

one of my daughters nearly bought a backpack for me with "grumpy old man" scribed on it, i was disappointed when i was told she chickened out.

after a couple of incidents when she was up with us this weekend, it seems i am now an AOF (annoying old fart, ha ha, i relish that).

so watch out, one of these days it might be me shuffling along in a scruffy thin overcoat looking for haggis in aisle 4.

fatmammycat said...

Speaking of hell...

Two Muslim mothers are sitting in the cafe chatting over a pint of goat's milk. The older of the moms pulls out her bag and starts flipping through pictures and reminiscing. This is my oldest son, Mohammed. He would be 24 now."

The other mom replies, "I remember him as a baby."

Mom says, "He's a martyr now."

"Oh, so sad, my dear."

Mom flips to another picture. "And this is my second son, Kalid. He would be 21."

"Oh I remember him. He had such curly hair when he was born."

Mom sighs, "He's a martyr, too."

"Oh gracious me," says the second mother.

"And this is my third son. My beautiful Ahmed.! He would be 18." Mom whispers.

"Yes," says her friend enthusiastically, "I remember when he first started school."

"He's a martyr also" Mom says, with tears in her eyes.

After a pause and a deep sigh, the second Muslim mother looks wistfully at the photos and says,

"They blow up so fast, don't they?"

finn said...

fucking awesome.

i luv F because he'll see the humor in this even though he's lost 3 cousins and an uncle.

adam if i find you in aisle 4 looking for haggis i promise to despatch you post-haste. i've eaten a lot of disgusting stuff in my day, including marinated carrots, but you couldn't pay me enough to eat haggis.

finn said...

adam scratch that last comment.

i would eat it for $7K.

fatmammycat said...

Finn Finn! The Paramour's brother-who laughed heartily at your Diana joke- just sent me this one for you.
Q- 'Who won Polish Person of the Year last year?'

A 'No one.'

finn said...

ah, but see that's what so good about the martyr joke -- you can't really sub in any other nationality.

but the teller of the Special Olympics and Diana jokes is polish, and he laughed, so you still get points on the board.

Brown Suga' said...

Great story. You're a helluva observer, ma'am. My salutes.

FMC - That joke is hilarious!!!

fatmammycat said...

Thank you very much, I'll be here all night. No really, it's too bloody cold to go anywhere else.