Friday, May 20, 2011

Stewart's Stories (I Have An Over Active Imagination)



If you don't already know, I have a fondness for creating imaginary stories about strangers based on their food purchases. Fodder for this urge usually comes in the form of the discarded grocery lists that I find laying around (see here and here). Tonight I was at Stewart's purchasing the above half-gallon of iced cream to satiate the wife's ever expanding appetite (she is currently incubating Mr. Dave Junior). The line was moving a little slowly and there were a few people ahead of me in the queue. In other words, I had ample time to be all nosey like and analyze my fellow Stewart's patron's items.

The first kid in line had 1 package gummy bears, 1 package sour patch kids, and 1 box brownie mix. That is it. Not even worth the mental energy to make up a story as he was clearly just baked on reefer and heading back to his abode for snacks. I did, however, decide to call the kid Edward as he really did quite look like an Edward.

The mind-story I made up about the next woman in line nigh brought me to tears (I am prone to attacks of visceral emotion) as her selection seemed a little tragic. In her arms she was cradling 1 Six-Pack of Busch (Tall Boys), 1 half-gallon 2% milk, and 1 loaf of Stewart's bread. When she got to the cashier she further ordered 3 lottery tickets (the big colorful looking shiny ones). Nance (she looked like a Nancy) pulled a few crumpled bills out of her wallet and counted out some change after which the cashier tactfully whispered that she was a bit short. I saw her shoulders tense up a little bit, you all know how embarrassing those awkward little moments can be, and if she hadn't produced a credit card to pay the balance I would have probably insisted on paying for her stuff.

You see, a six-pack of Busch (Tall Boys) seems to me to be medicine to dull some form of pain (you certainly aren't drinking those ones for the taste), be it the drudgery of a miserable occupation, a bad relationship, or one of life's other innumerable nettles. The 2% milk and the Stewart's bread, that is simply affordable substance. I picture our Nance making PB and Js for lunch. Not sloppy PB and Js, neatly spread ones with the slices of bread lined up carefully. Maybe ham and mayo sandwiches sometimes with a little mustard mixed into the mayo... The lottery tickets speak of hope. Hope that maybe one day, in a rainy Stewart's parking lot, Nance will hit it big. No more Busch, no more ham and mayo... Anyhow, I wish it was socially acceptable to just walk up to a stranger and say something nice once in a while.



This is not the first time that I have been thrown into melancholia over the human condition and our lives of quiet tragedy based on the observance of a lonely individual and their foodstuffs. Just ask some of my friends about the "sad lady eating key lime pie under the bright lights at the Denny's counter" incident of circa '97. That scene (the fluorescent green hue of the pie and the quiet desperation) still makes me unspeakably sad.

Anyhow, the gent behind me had a bottle of water and a glint in his eye. When he got up near the hot dog box he expectantly pulled out the bun drawer only to realize that though the steamer was full of sultry and sweaty looking deli dogs, there were no more buns. The maroon clad heros of Stewart's quickly remedied the situation and my friend, Sam (he looked like Sam Elliott sans mustache), fixed himself up two dogs with mustard and onions.

I purchased my iced cream and made my way back to my wife and child and we went home. I reminded myself that going into a Stewart's when I am in one of my ponderous moods is not necessarily the best of ideas.

Well anyways, how about this rain? Sure has been a lot of rain.

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