Sunday, January 18, 2009

grocery store

The bin of portabellos was full but I couldn't find two that I thought were perfectly sized and shaped; I would prefer that they not look flat and anemic on top for personal aesthetic reasons and also that the stem not seem too woody and clotted with peat as they are sold by weight.  I noticed the one I was holding had a little bruise-line on top when I started to get panicky because maybe I was taking too long and maybe that man over there wanted mushrooms too but was just pretending to consider mealy winter tomatoes while I spent five minutes trying to find the mushrooms that were okay but the lights from the deli case were too bright and made surfaces too shiny and I got overwhelmed by math and colors and time.   

A kid who looked like he was 11-12 in one of those motorized wheelchairs.  He was talking to his mom in the soda aisle of Super Saver about what he could go pick out for himself while I stood nervously and blindly scanning the rows of colorful sugar-water because some chick parked her cart right in front of the soda I wanted and camped out to carefully examine a Fresca label or some shit while I clenched my hands and tried not to start breathing too fast and heavy from all of the people milling around and potentially looking at me.  
The kid in the chair finished talking to his mom and buzzed down the aisle, and said pretty loud: "God, being poor SUCKS,"
right when he went past me, so I said "Yep."  And the girl blocking my soda looked up with big eyes.  

Coca-Cola comes in 20-packs now, I worried without knowing why if they still make 24-packs, in case this international sweet beverage corporation was trying to pull a fast one and charge the same price for less soda-pop.  No, not today, I concluded.  The 20-pack was on sale.

There was a dude considering canned goods, he was short, shorter than I am, wearing a black trenchcoat and a black little scarf and a black what-are-they-called like a golfer's cap.  I could see that he worried he was blocking my progress toward canned beans but he was not, and there was no way I could communicate this to him really except to act as relaxed as I could about reaching for the beans, and to force myself not to reconsider the store-brand that was 20 cents cheaper and lean in and snatch at both options to compare minor details on the labels.  
I kept getting an odd sensation that I knew this guy, but I think he just reminded me of someone I used to know.  Maybe I could feel his sensitivity, like mine, to inconveniencing others in the slightest.  There is something vulnerable in kindness that radiates from a person like subtle perfume, not in the face as I cannot bring myself to look at them most of the time but maybe in the shoulders, a slope of concession and goodwill.

The lines were long and when I got in one I left a space in front of me so I wouldn't be blocking the horizontal aisle.  A vietnamese-looking man pushed his cart in front of me, into the space I'd made.  His cart had only two gigantic packages of chicken legs.  After I checked out the short man in black was bagging his groceries next to me.  Outside it was dark and very cold.

2 comments:

rachelise said...

I usually buy mushrooms from the bulk bin. And I always remove the stems.

hedonista said...

mush
room stems why
why you got to
be so
dense
why do you
evoke
my pity