Friday, May 25, 2012

The Rise and Fall of a Supermarket Reunion (A Story In Five Parts)

Chapter One
Browsing through the fruit and vegetable isle you’re lost in squeezing tomatoes and trying to figure out what to get for dinner when you hear a long, exaggerated “Ohhhh myyy Gaaawd!”  You look up and see a face you haven’t seen since high school: Annie Jacobs.  The hair is highlighted and chopped short in a wave and there are crows feet and an unnatural orangey glow to the skin but it’s definitely her.  There is a heartfelt if awkward hug and you almost tear up when sharing brief stories about your lives over the past twenty years.  Of course she got married, and remarried now and her husband is a doctor and boy was it great catching up and before you can even think you’re parting ways.  You find yourself roaming the aisles aimlessly, having forgotten your shopping list in a flood of memories.

Chapter Two
You see her in the soda aisle loading a case of some fancy sparkling water into the bottom of her cart and can’t help but break out in a smile.  “Fancy meeting you here” you quip before launching into a nearly hysterical retelling of the ruined performance of Grease sophomore year that birthed a thousand different inside jokes between the two of you and lead to impromptu choruses of adulterated song lyrics in a variety of inappropriate contexts.  You spend far longer than you mean to recalling embarrassing moments and rebellious pranks and you laugh harder than you have in a while and ask for her phone number when she says that you should seriously catch up.  You wander off happily thumbing the torn paper and marveling on how surprisingly great this shopping trip has been.

Chapter Three
Reaching for a pound of chicken cutlets you see her again; she’s standing in front of the display and half- blocking it with her cart.  “I guess that’s the joy of supermarkets,” she laughs, “you reunite again and again.”  You laugh politely but the fun stories have sort-of exhausted themselves already and you really do have to get home and make dinner.  You smile warmly, saying how it really was so good to see her but you purposely skip the frozen food aisle in hopes of concluding the visit while you’re still genuinely happy to have run into her.

Chapter Four
Turning down the paper good aisle to retrieve toilet paper you spot her looking through paper towels.  You nearly back track but then mentally kick yourself for being so petty.  But in all honesty, it’s really just getting ridiculous.  As you near her you see that she’s parked her cart directly in front of the TP and you start to remember why you haven’t seen her for twenty years.  Because wasn’t she always getting in the way, one way or another?  Didn’t she steal the role of Sandy in Grease while you were stuck as stupid Patty?  And didn’t she always get the solos in chorus while you were forever harmonizing with the rest of the altos?  And didn’t she go to the prom with Mark Cooper even though she knew you were totally in love with him for, like, the entirety of junior year?  That bitch.  It’s not enough that she stole all your big moments in high school, now you can’t even wipe your ass because of her!  You give her a weak smile as you reach over her cart and grab a four pack, then beat a hasty retreat back down the aisle.

Chapter Five
You make your way to the check-out stands, nearly holding your breath as you wait for her to emerge at the end of a line and once again block you from getting your damned groceries.  All the pleasant memories have faded and now you want nothing more than to get out.  How silly for you to forget that the tall, beautiful Ann was the bane of your high school existence; effortlessly taking everything you worked so hard for.  You scan the horizon for her high-heeled figure to emerge and curse the pimpled checkout boy for not going faster.  Completely forgetting all the coupons you’d cut you swipe your card and violently shove your bags into your cart, nearly running for the door.  Safely in the parking lot you rush to get everything into the trunk of your car while your brain recalls a thousand horrific failures that perfect Ann succeeded at.  The dances, the boyfriends, the compliments and praises from teachers all directed at her while you followed her around like a dog begging for the scraps of her popularity.  You see her coming out of the store as you turn on your car and look in the other direction, backing out as fast as you can and cursing her for ruining everything.  When you get home, you throw her number away with your receipt.

4 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this, I haven't thought of doing anything like this, really fun

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  2. I'm the sort to simply smile and wave at that person, lips closed, eyes already diverting. Social shields up, attempting to achieve escape velocity from a redundant encounter.

    I can appreciate your way, though, Bev, of just tossing her number later.

    Heads-up: para1, "tomtoes" probably should be "tomatoes"

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  3. I loved this! And I know exactly how that feels.

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Thank you for your comment! I will love it and hug it and pet it and call it George. Or, you know, just read and reply to it. But still- you rock!