“I live on Madison near the All Night Grunge Chopper. You’ve been there, so you know what I mean. It may not be the worst free standing vendor of food stuffs and alcoholic beverages this side of Bangladesh but it certainly rates.
Well, the night in question I had one of those hunger strikes that can only be solved by Mexican food. You know how it is after a full night of work and a couple of libations to ease the pain, the old stomach starts cranking up overtime, sending out this urgent appeal for Solid Food. Now.
Make that Mexican Food and make it pronto!
Of course, the cupboard was dry. Who the hell has time for the niceties in life like food shopping? I sure as hell don’t. Not when there’s serious drinking to be done.
Anyway, there I was in the Grunge Chopper, a half dozen burritos liberated from frozen foods in need of hot sauce and then it’s on the old merry way home to the microwave and a blissful night dreaming about Fernando Valenzuela or Poncho Villa or some such shit. I can almost hear myself saying, “Badges, we don’t need no stinking badges” as I drifted off into the Land of Nod, the Treasure of Sierra Madre firmly within my grasp.
So how many aisles are there in that store?
Ten? Twelve, maybe? The one with the hot sauce on it is home to this degenerate drunk. I mean this guy was giving the word Wasted a new meaning.
There he stands, if you could call what he was doing standing, on aisle six directly in front of the hot sauce. I would have settled for mild sauce but he had the whole section blocked. Weaving to and fro, back and forth, to and from, back and forth. It gets me seasick just thinking about it now.
I’m standing there with these very cold, defrosting burritos on my arm, trying to judge which way he’s going to weave next. A bartender would be good at something like that, no? I always thought I was but not this time. This guy was really special.
I still thought I could make snap judgment a grab the sauce real quick and a bee line for the Fast lane and zoom on back to the launching pad not thinking of how ridiculous this whole thing was. I mean there was no real, valid reason why I should be standing here getting frostbite at three in the morning trying to outwit the body language of a drunk and not getting paid for it, was there?
Just when I’m getting around to making the decision to chuck the whole project, the drunk goes like totally limp on me. I mean comatose with a capital C.
Now, it’s one of those great moments of conscience time: should I call management and deal with this situation on a purely humanitarian level or should I just grab the salsa and run?
While I’m busy vacillating, you know: call in the medics, No, grab the salsa, run , satisfy the Mexican food craving, yes, a voice comes on over the store loudspeaker, “Man down in aisle six, manager needed right away.”
The next thing you know the whole world was in aisle six. It must have been one of those incredible rare nights when the cops are like right in the parking lot waiting for a downed drunk in aisle six, they were there that fast. Try to get a cop in a bar fight that fast, usually they’re on permanent call at Dunkin’ Donuts during the bar fight that lands nineteen people in Albany Med. But, that’s another story.
Anyway, now, it’s becoming a question of what to do with this like almost totally defrosted burritos, I’d wasted that much time making up my mind. The hot sauce is still beyond reach , there must have been like fifteen people there in all kinds of emergency capacities by now. This was rapidly turning into one of those epic, existential Friday drunks that Sartre wrote about in Nausea that I always thought happened to other people.
Now, I think I should just ditch the whole thing and good home. I mean what good are burritos without hot sauce anyway? No good, at all, of course. But, I feel an absurd moral obligation to pay for the burritos since I had liberated them from the freezer, no one would ever buy them in their current state of semi frozenness.
Those moments of indecision were going to cost me plenty. By now, the Express Lane is like closed forever. I get stuck on line behind this Giantess with an extended family of no neck cretins that would make inbreeding family experiments down South ashamed. This was going to be a check out experience that rivaled none before in the history of the Grunge Chopper. Simply amazing! And doesn’t she come up short with both food stamps and cash for the stuff she finally gets checked out? Wouldn’t you know it? the perfect ending to a perfect evening.
And doesn’t it take forever on top of everything else, as they start voiding out items until they can get to a sum she actually has. And doesn’t she keep changing her mind about what is essential for this trip and what isn’t? And aren’t the kids playing tackling games that includes using the man on line behind her as hide and seek object as well as a tackling dummy?
Eventually, I got to buy the burritos and by the time I got home I wasn’t hungry anymore. The only thing positive about the whole experience is that I can safely ignore this El Loco Mexico frozen food craving the next time it calls in the AM and not feel the slightest bit lame for staying home and ignoring it.
“Where do I see myself in five years?” Charlie repeated. His hand went up to his throat. He rubbed the skin, still raw from that morning’s shave and winced a little.
“I know what I’m supposed to say,” he said. “Do you want me to say that?”
“You should say whatever you want, preferably the truth,” the interviewer said.
Charlie looked across the desk and studied the woman asking him questions. He put her at about fifty years old. She looked tired, but not beaten. More like the good kind of tired you feel after a day of doing work you enjoy. Her hair was pulled back tight in a bun, she wore very little makeup, or if she did you couldn’t tell. Her lips were tight, but he could tell by the lines around her mouth and eyes she smiled often.
She wore a blue blazer over a white shirt. A loose silver bracelet hung on her left wrist. He noticed the nails on her thumbs were chewed down to the quick.
For some reason this reminded Charlie of being a little kid and coming out of the bath at his grandmother’s house. He would dry off and then sit at the kitchen table while his grandmother gently pushed his cuticles back.
“You have to see your moons,” she used to say, as he tried to squirm away.
Charlie inspected his fingers to see if his moons were still showing. They were.
“Well, the truth is, I have absolutely no idea.”
It’s fitting that you’re reading this in our bedroom.
You are a bastard. And not even a smart bastard. You are an idiot bastard with an ego the size of Texas and a brain no bigger than a tick.
Did you really think I wouldn’t catch on?
I found them taped on the underside of your dresser, your little stash of homemade pornographic pictures of Nancy wearing my lingerie. Couldn’t get her something new, could you? The two of you must have had a good laugh over that one, my best friend wearing my lingerie while screwing my husband in my bedroom.
You may have noticed that dinner on the table and my presence aren’t the only things missing tonight.
Your 1965 cherry red Mustang isn’t in the garage. Nancy went for a ride.
Too bad you didn’t pay the taxes and get the tags updated on your license plates. The police are likely to find it before you do, and notice a bad smell coming from the trunk. Funny how well carbon monoxide works on an unconscious woman.
You’re a consummate liar, Jer, but even you can’t fabricate your way out of this one.
Have a banner day.