"If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world." -- Francis Bacon
This was the day before yesterday, Sunday. I'd run out of deodorant, soap, and shampoo before I left Willow Drive. And while I don't mind a little stink, I do try to ward of the human stain when relying on the kindness and the couch of friends or family. So that meant a trip to the drug store.
Liz was gone a large part of the day, taking Mike's mother to a casino near Charleston, West Virginia. I spent the day writing, hanging out with Mike, watching snooty English Dramas, and watching him recover from hangover. We spent Saturday evening relaxing, visiting, drinking, and singing L'Internationale. Mike drank more than I did and passed out -- but not until he went about drunk dialing some people, like friend and poet Misty Skaggs, and his sister-in-law. He was polite, and almost... almost... apologetic to Misty. To his sister-in-law, Mike said
"Your pussy stinks like turpentine."
Then he laughed hysterically. And so did Liz. And so did I.
He survived the night, drank some water the following day, and was just fine.
When Liz came home, she ran Mike and I up to CVS. My plan was to buy travel size supplies. Not only would that save me money, but a little space in my sack, too. Walking into the CVS, I felt like I was walking into a department store. It had been a while since I walked into a pharmacy that big. Seriously. The Pharmacy Center in Mount Carroll could've fit in a corner of the Ashland CVS. And yes, I have lived in more populated places with larger drug stores, grocery stores, liquor stores. Yes, I know. And that I was, for the briefest instant, struck with confusion at the sheer amount of choices I had to choose from, sounds absurd. And it is absurd. That I can walk into a drug store on a Sunday afternoon and get everything from flip flops to dental floss, from Ramen Noodles to Roach Killer, from batteries to bubble bath, strikes me as
Everything except beer. Kentucky Blue Laws made THAT impossible. Bastards.
After my eyes grew accustomed to the glow of the fluorescent lights, I quickly found soap, shampoo, and deodorant. I also bought some disposable razors and a travel sized can of shaving cream so that I can trim back my beard... or at least, shave my neck.
It's good, sometimes, to try and look human... even if I often wish I wasn't.
Liz and Mike picked up a few things and we prepared to check out. As we did, we first ran into a woman trying to maneuver two shopping carts -- one holding an infant in a carrier, the other for shopping. She was clearly having a difficult time, and the construction of the CVS carts weren't working in her favor; the carrier was too big and the carts were too small. She finally managed to push both of them towards the shampoo aisle. The baby was surprisingly silent.
At the moment we were about to step up to the register, Liz was then accosted by an older woman who seemed to know Liz.
"... and you know what," she said. "I'm still living with that son of a bitch and he's got some woman that sleeps over."
"Is that right?" Liz asked.
The woman -- who we found out was living with her ex -- was clearly irritated by the situation. She was tense and shaking. and even behind the granny thick glasses -- which was framed by wiry, frizzy graying black hair spots of white that looked like extensions of the crows feet and frown lines dug deep into gray face -- it was obvious that the woman was tweaking on something. Crack or redneck cocaine* or maybe even meth... anything was possible.
"And you know what?" she went on. "Last night, that woman climbed into bed with ME. Can you believe that?"
"Is that right?" Liz asked.
"Well, you know what my daughter said..."
"No," Liz answered. "What'd she say?"
"She said I ort ta reach over an GRAB something!" The woman reached out with bony vulture fingers and grabbed the air as if to demonstrate how she might just go about grabbing... uh... something. (Additionally, the mental image was not at all pleasant.)
"Well," Liz said, "Maybe you should."
"Maybe I will!" She said. "That'll learn her."
"I bet it will," Liz said.
We paid for our purchases and left. The woman walked out with us, still talking to Liz about grabbing a piece of the woman who crawls into her and her ex's bed. Once we hit the parking lot, she made for an old model white and blue Ford F150. We got into Mike and Liz's Chevy Aveo Sedan.
"Who was that?" Mike asked as we got in the car.
"I don't know," Liz said. "She just started talking to me like we were in the middle of a conversation."
We laughed about it a bit, and got on the road. We ended up behind the Ford, and then beside it. Liz honked and waved at the woman, who honked and waved back."
"Well, honey," Mike said. "Looks like you made yourself a friend."
"I bet her name is Charlene," Liz said, laughing.
"And I bet she's thinking you're someone she knows," I said. "I bet she thinks your name is Marlene."
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