“I’d like one.”
“When everyone else has had one, you may have another.”
“I’ve been coming here for 20 years. Do you have any idea how much money I spend here every week?”
“We’ve only been here about 3 years sir.”
“Sonofabitch! I’ve fought in wars. I’ve killed lots of men in battle. A piece of shrapnel almost lodged itself in my left ear. Don’t tell me I don’t know what I am talking about. Now give me another one of those damn frozen flautas.
“It’s a taquito.”
He stormed off like a man who had just been told a flauta was actually a taquito.
Julia wondered how much more of this she could take. Those lucky bastards over at Whole Foods probably didn’t have to deal with disgruntled old timers. Old people couldn’t afford to eat there. On second thought, they probably had to deal with people who were rich enough to eat there. At least old people were likely too senile to know what they were saying. She headed for the back room to get some more tiny paper cups, like the ones they give you when you want a sample at the yogurt place downtown.
As the too-narrow escalator escalated up, I developed a theory that excited and depressed me in quick succession. The only reason this book store still existed, what with the Internet and all, is because people don’t get inspired to be as cool as the people writing or being written about in books that aren’t surrounding you. Where would we go for a false creative renewal if we could not surround ourselves with works of those creative enough, brilliant enough or reality-star famous enough to publish something? Near the magazine rack I felt like a guy who grossly overpaid to attend a motivational seminar, knowing full well that the only one getting anything out of it was the guy who suckered everyone into paying to hear him talk about how motivated he is. In three minutes of scanning I learned about the top 10 next big technologies, why Mormons are successful on Broadway and in politics, the top 100 most innovative entrepreneurs and the most wealthy hedge-fund managers. Little do they know that I know that the reporters behind the sensationalized entertainment masked by prestigious names like Fortune and Newsweek are writing things mostly just to one up the other reporters who think they are pretty pen-forward. The reader might care too, if it inspires them. But it doesn’t really. It makes me feel torn between writing about something that matters and not writing anything because the second you write it for others to read, you are becoming one of them. You become somebody trying to think of something interesting, different or creative enough for others to want to read.
The middle-aged woman who constantly asks if I want to sign up for a Barnes & Noble membership came around the corner and I almost ran over her. She asked if I am finding everything OK and I tell her that I’m looking for something that is real. Not the best of. Not the most famous. Not the fake real. She told me to chill out and go check out a comic book or something.
After leaving the books in my hands outside the bathroom on the table that said “Please don’t bring books into the bathroom,” I went to the bathroom.
Immediately after sitting down in the booth adjacent to the bar, I regretted my earlier decision to give my “neighborhood bar and grill” another chance. A quick glance around told me the life story of an elderly couple who liked mahjong and had never really learned to cook, an entire family of severely obese visitors from the hotel across the street who thought they were eating healthy, and another couple like my wife and I who were just trying to use up an old gift card.
After a thorough study of the menu, I struggled to narrow my choices to less than three, as nearly everything there met my requirements of:
1. Looks good in the picture
2. Comes in grotesquely hefty portions and tastes ok
3. Cheaper than a nice meal, but more expensive than a sleezy fast food place
4. Doesn’t require that I do any work
After placing an order and excusing myself to the bathroom, I returned to my seat and looked outside at the passing traffic.
Hannah’s lip were burning from the jalapeno residue still on her fingers. A door slammed shut somewhere and she heard feet shuffle through the dining room. As she looked up she felt a sense of hollow anticipation that felt a little like guilt.
“What the hell is the problem?”
“Mmmm…..hhhhhhhhhhmmmmmm. I think I ate too fast.”
“Damnit Harold! How many times have I told you to think about every bite? It’s you’re own fault and I’m not about to call the ambulance again for this. Here…..gurgle with the rest of my milk.”
“You know I can’t digest that stuff. I’d rather stop breathing than stay up all night bloated and battling floating stools.”
Harold contemplated his options for removal and was leaning towards drinking from the shower with the pressure on high.
Mom baked her third batch of cookies using the stainless Kitchen Aid. I tried to think of a video to watch on You Tube and settled on Pinky the Cat. I had that one song in my head where the girls go “Biggy Biggy Biggy.” Cookies sounded good, but I don’t like walnuts and I don’t like having to pick out the walnuts.
Luke showed up around noon and we we loaded up the car and headed out for a couple of 64 oz cherry slurpees before the trip. My hat was backwards because it was Summer and it’s easy to convince yourself you’re cool when you haven’t been around the cool kids in a while. The air felt like Las Vegas, loud and dry. Just as we got on the freeway, we both let out a hoot as we bantered about the weekend ahead.
My throat burned with desire for a Fosters Freeze. Since just before bed yesterday, the smell of a cold lingered in the back of my nasal cavity. Each swallow when I awoke felt like I was choking on something sharp. A little salt might do the trick…….nope.
Mary told me I should gargle with cherry schnapps, which I did. It reminded me of the time I let the Listerine get too far back.