In Your Own Little World
You pull the key out of the ignition and tap your left index finger on the steering wheel attempting to remember what exactly you came to the supercenter to pick up without looking at the post-it note she gave you.
Before opening the door, you disconnect your iPod from the aux jack in your console, plug in your earphones and slip them over your ears. Shuffle will best fit your shopping trip. You beep the car and walk away.
She was mad at you for not picking up the correct bag of steamable vegetables last time she sent you shopping. Don’t want to make that mistake again. It was tough enough the three weeks before when she told you she specifically she wanted the kind with “wings” and you got the wrong type. You’re sure those will be on the list next week.
Six steps into it, the sound of Big Star’s “September Gurls” kicks in. You remember the Bangles covered that on “Everything.” Do you still have that cassette? You smile at the thought of Michael Steele’s big eighties ‘do. You always thought she was the second hottest Bangle next to Susanna.
As you grab the most convenient shopping cart, you turn the volume up and enter the store. Alex Chilton breathes, “I was your butch and you were touched.” The elderly greeter mouths “hello” to you and you smile and nod; she’s saying something else. Maybe “welcome to our store” or “your fly is down.” You don’t care either way.
You deftly avoid another elderly as she comes around the cosmetic corner at breakneck speed on her scooter. She doesn’t even look at you. “Separate Ways” kicks in. Not the Steve Perry version either. You can’t remember what possessed you to add the updated, re-sung version of their greatest hits with the new Filipino lead singer. His accent comes out at certain parts of the song. You remember a hilarious youTube video with a Filipina butchering Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kiss Me,” complete with subtitles. Mental Note: pull that video up when you get home.
There’s a kid, holding a Lego kit and crying, walking behind his mother. It’s pretty obvious he’s not getting that toy today. He throws the box at his mother’s flip-flopped feet and–no need to hear it–you see her face contort in pain then twist into wild-eyed anger. You don’t want to have to be a material witness to child abuse so you turn into the Music section.
Who buys CD’s anymore? you ask yourself. Much love to the iPod, but you will always remain a vinyl junkie. There aren’t enough record stores in this town, or any town. You still entertain the notion of opening up your own used records/comic book/coffee shop on your bucket list. A nice dream. You are pleasantly surprised to see the store carries the Mats, even if it’s just the Greatest Hits. You want to hear “Can’t Hardly Wait,” so you break shuffle mode and turn it up louder. A tattooed, dreadlocked cutie strolls by and gives you a cursory smile. You notice her white linen pants as well as a lack of undergarment. Or footwear. She’s got a nice butt. You remind yourself you’re only here for five items and you haven’t even begun to grab them yet. But first, back to shuffle.
Rancid’s “Ruby Soho” kicks in, appropriately.
Fighting the urge to take the list out of your pocket, you start chanting the items in your head: dog food, creamer, toilet paper, Boca burgers and . . . you can’t remember. Tim Armstrong is distracting you. Or maybe it’s the girl in the linen pants. It’ll come to you eventually.
First stop: pet aisle. Your doggie needs more food packets, not the dry cereal stuff you give him in the morning. You toss a case into your cart and make your way towards dairy. Johnny Cash’s “25 Minutes to Go” starts playing.
At the “5 minute” mark of the song, you’re staring at the various flavored creamers. Was it vanilla she didn’t like? No, caramel. Wait. Mocha. You grab the biggest French Vanilla bottle as the sound of Johnny Cash is replaced by . . . you’re not sure. You take your iPod out of your pocket to see it’s “Blissful Queen” by Veruca Salt.
You went through a major rock chick phase in the nineties. Who did you see Veruca Salt with again? You remember her army jacket and beat up Doc Martens and where she tried to push her tongue piercing when you were fooling around in the back of your car. You know you’ll remember her name at the most inopportune time.
Toilet paper. You’re always unsure which brand is best. The one with the bear? or the dog? or the baby?You just know you don’t enjoy the paper breaking on you at a vulnerable moment. Before you rack your brain determining which brand to choose, Juliana Hatfield’s “Until Tomorrow” brings you back to sanity. “I know that you’ve got to go,” she coos. It was the one with the bear.
There’s a couple arguing in front of the facial tissue. Her arms flail wildly and her lips move rapidly. He’s looking sheepishly around, obviously uncomfortable. He probably wishes this conversation could happen someplace less public. You imagine she’s giving him grief because he didn’t buy the kind with the wings. If this were a movie scene, “Answering Bell” by Ryan Adams would provide the background music: “Let your tears fall and touch my skin. Then your thunderclouds could rage and wail.”
Boca burgers? You like your meat real but you told her you’d go along with her vegetarian kick for a month. But you’ve been cheating. You forgot to dispose of the receipt from yesterday’s “business” lunch. “Is there something you need to tell me,” she’d asked as she held the evidence and you toweled off from your evening shower. She really wasn’t mad as you chased each other around the apartment, collapsing in a pile of dirty clothes in the living room.
Another unfamiliar track kicks in and you look at your player again. My Other Friend’s “40 Years” was a gift from your buddy in New York. He sent you this file as a teaser of music to come. He’ll be in town next month; you hope you’ll be on the list. Last time Eli was in town equaled good times. You know it will be again. What was the quote you two laughed about? “To make an omelette, you’ve got to break a few ughs!” You laugh aloud and the lady in front of you turns back. You flash her a grin but she shakes her head.
Wiping the condensation off the door, you are surprised by the different varieties of veggie burgers. Boca. Grab it and move on. Nothing else to think about in that section. Except that last item. What the heck was it again?
LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrself Clean” is your Jeopardy music.
This trip can’t go any longer because you still have to tweak Monday’s presentation. You reach into your pocket for the post-it note and realize it’s not there. You left your phone in the car and you don’t want to call Em for a reminder anyway. You reach into your other pocket. There it is, stuck to your iPod.
Boca burgers, check.
Toilet paper, check.
Dog food, check.
Creamer, all good.
And . . . nothing. Nothing written on the back either.
You shrug your shoulders and make your way toward the front of the store through the men’s section. You could’ve sworn there was something else to buy. You eye the clearance rack. The Green Lantern tee you wanted is marked down so you throw a medium into your cart. You tell yourself to look up the release date for the upcoming film. Ryan Reynolds better do a good job as Hal Jordan. You still think they should have gone with Nathan Fillion.
A rack of DVDs comes between you and the register. “21 Jumpstreet” season one for $5? Yes please. Tonight’s distraction will be a few episodes one of your favorite tv series. You take your place in the express lane and grab snacks: a bag of pork rinds and microwavable popcorn. Just as the nine minutes of “Dance” comes to an end, you take your headphones off.
“…you doing this evening?” the clerk is asking.
“Huh? Oh, I’m just peachy. Thanks.”