"There's no milk?" had been my morning greeting from the Husband. He didn't mean it like it sounded, but I put down the knife I was using to cut up a mango, just in case.
"There are worse things" I say cryptically, and hunch into the the sink to finish up last nights dishes. I have no pity today, no empathy, no remorse- "don't eat so god damned much" crosses my mind, but I keep it to myself. He walks upstairs with a handful of dry cereal, leaving a trail fit for Hansel and Gretel in his wake. Naturally, I step on every single errant piece in my effort to get the kid's feet into clean socks and their minuscule behinds into impossibly small pairs of panties while he takes a long hot shower. I haven't taken a long hot shower in over six years, a force of habit from the days where the kids might die if left unattended for more than thirty seconds. God, it sure seems like men have it easy, meeting their needs whenever they arise. I feel like a domestic Colonel Kurtz, a rotund mad housewife holed up in the cave that is my laundry room, bellowing commands every so often......
....The stench of dirty laundry fills the air, the smoke billows from the unattended toaster oven.The cries of suffering fill the air as the TV gets turned off.......I love the sound of dry cereal underfoot in the morning.....
Yeah, I am clearly not okay today, so do what I say and stay out of my way.
Once in the car, I feel like Travis the taxi driver, wanting to pick off the people who are in my fucking way with a weapon I fantasize about owning but never ever would( have you read the stats about guns?). Then I have a flash of rage because all of my cultural references are from films- why the fuck didn't I read more when I had the time? And how come "fuck" is my default swear word?
Got the kids to school, music blasting to drown out the bickering. Even Sly and the Family Stone couldn't lift my spirits. Keep thinking about him living in that van in the Crenshaw District.
On to the grocery store to buy the god damned soy milk that started off the morning so brilliantly. Pavilions is on the way home to my empty house, the unmade bed beckoning, the rancid laundry emanating from every basket, the floor littered with bits of lint and paper and dangerous dried pasta spirals that will puncture my bare rhinoceros skinned feet with ease. I need a pedicure in the worst way-my feet are like Velcro, sticking to the bed sheets, crackling me awake in the middle of the night.
The lot at Pavilions is filled with wayward slow moving targets, all varieties of irritating: old women doing an extended diagonal cross at a snail's pace, young hipsters on their cell phones strutting so slowly that they sway dangerously from lack of forward momentum.Get out of my way should be written on my filthy station wagon's windshield today. I park and take my eco- friendly bag inside. The sun is beating down so intensely, and I can almost hear that high pitched noise they use in movies when someone is alone under the searing desert sun. Or is it the sound of sun damage since I am not wearing sunscreen or a hat. Fuck.
I find a basket and go directly to the produce section. We have no vegetables at home, which always depresses me. I grab organic carrots and stare over at the dairy section, paralyzed. Evidently, according to my husband's new chiropractor, the soy products I have been using for the last six years will harm my children. Okay, fine, but what Dr. Sky is Falling failed to mention was that dairy products contain growth hormones and/or were stolen from the mouths of screaming calves who were taken away to a living hell to eventually become veal. Almond milk has zero nutritional value and a lot of sugar. I know that goat milk can't be an ethical choice either, and hemp milk, well, can I really feed the kids hemp milk? I must be depressed because I can't seem to find the upside to anything, and I live a charmed life in one of the finest, freest places on Earth.
I am interrupted by a solicitous but slightly garbled, "Finding everything okay?". Without making eye contact, I nod my head and say quietly,"Yep, all good". I stare at the dairy case and can't remember what I was there for. Fuck. I wander around, hoping it will come back to me so I can go home and crawl into bed. I am now standing in front of the organic apples and wondering if the kids will eat a whole bag of them when Mr. Solicitous returns. "Finding everything okay?" he asks, exactly the same way as he did thirty five seconds ago. Oh, Jesus, not today, please. Again, I nod my head extra emphatically and say, a tad curtly," Yep, all good!". He fades into the background as I remember that I need milk. I grab a carton of soy milk, the one that will give my kids fertility problems down the line, and head for the freezer section to look for frozen peas. I hear Mr. Solicitous approaching, this time pushing a wide broom, up and down. I know this because I can hear him asking passers by the same question he asked me, each time the same, with no variation in tone or inflection, like a robot. I get a good look at him, and he is actually a lot like a robot. He is a bit goofy looking, though, tall and gangly with an uncanny resemblance to Christopher Lloyd. He must have swept the freezer aisle four times, and each pass forced me to step to other side and out of his way,which was particularly annoying since the floor just wasn't that dirty. I braced myself for his third inquiry as to whether or not I was finding everything okay, but mercifully, it didn't come. He just needed to be whistling an aimless tune, and I easily could have gone Jack Nicholson on him right there in front of the Novelties section.
Forgetting why I was standing there, I gave up and went to lane number four to get the hell out of there. I wanted to go home. I put all the stuff on the belt and, as if by magic, Mr. Solicitous materialized at the end of the check out lane, already doubling a plastic bag in anticipation. As I handed him my bright pink reusable Breast Cancer Awareness bag, our eyes met, and he held my gaze.
....In my head, I hear the blast of a guimbarde trumpet rom The Good,The Bad and the Ugly. I see him through narrowed eyes in three separate frames-the first frame- his eyes- which were slightly crossed;the second frame- his jaw- which was slightly slack; and third frame- his forehead with a small bead of sweat starting to form at his hairline. ...He had clearly caught my less than friendly tone and didn't like it one bit. ....I stared right back, as I found his tone to be overly friendly and somewhat monotone, and I didn't like it one bit either. .....
It was in that moment of looking back at him, just about to break out my best Clint squint, that I realize something kind of important: the man I had so casually called Mr. Solicitous in my head, the man I was staring down in a fantasy super market Spaghetti Western, the man who had helped put the icing on my bitchy cake, was more than a few bricks short of a hod.
Yes, I was silently going toe to toe with a mentally challenged grocery bagger.
He looked at my medium sized bag and then down to my pile of groceries. The checker said, "All in one bag, ma'am?". I looked at him, wondering when I became a "ma'am" and said "that'd be great!". Mr. Solicitous looked down at my groceries again. I saw fear in his eyes. He swallowed and started to bag the items coming down the conveyor. I watched him trying to determine where the divider was between my stuff and the person's stuff behind me. He craned his neck, appearing genuinely concerned that the one bag would simply not be big enough. I grabbed the personal watermelon in an effort to calm him down. "Don't bag this, I will carry it".
Suddenly, my horrible mood lifted, and I felt like being nice to him. I even managed something resembling a smile. He reluctantly wrestled all of my items into the bag, though the Pirate's Booty didn't want to ride on top and kept falling out. I collected my cash back and balanced the watermelon in the crook of my arm. I reached for my overstuffed bag. As he handed it to me, and I prepared to give him an ear to ear grin and a huge gummy "thanks!", the melon rolled out of my arm and hit the floor with a perfect horror movie soundtrack splat. It cracked, of course, and the juice went everywhere in seconds. He stared at me blankly for a beat, then apologized faintly and went to get paper towels. I couldn't tell if he was smirking or not, but when he walked back with the towels all I saw was his concern for the next customer's things that had begun coming down the belt. I insisted on cleaning it up, and he let me. I put the destroyed melon in a plastic bag and exited the store, leaving a sticky trail of droplets all the way out of the store and through the parking lot to my car. I opened the trunk and put it in the back, not caring if it leaked. I just wanted to not feel this way anymore. I went home and tried to cut up what was left of the pulverized melon. If we liked watermelon soup it might have had a chance, but it had sustained extensive tissue damage in the fall. I threw it away, wondering if the human head is as fragile. And all this before ten a.m.
Yeah, well, what else is there to say, really, except, in the inimitable gutturalness of Charlie Brown, AAUGH!!!