Today I had a long chat with a lovely elderly gentleman at my local Co-op. Older gentlemen like me a lot. I think it's because my silver hair makes them feel safe, like--despite being a spectacularly well-preserved 51--I might have some insight into where they are, some inkling of that place I'm headed, and might also know a thing or two about produce. As a result, I often have friendly discussions with the old guys at the grocery store while I'm helping them buy ripe cantaloupe, avoid mushy bananas, or find the kind of yogurt that. . . you know.
But from now on I'll be shopping for groceries in a head-to-toe disguise because REAL-LIFE STORY: Today I learned, while comparing groceries with the gentleman being me in the Fast Check line (we both had dairy products and cereal!) that, unlike me, Lanny's wife, the much-missed Ann-Marie, preferred her tampons to have a deodorant in them, on account of her impaired mobility toward the end of her life. (I didn't ask what the correlation was.) (Rare burst of sagacity on my part.) Sometimes they made her itch, but the ones she liked best didn't. He wasn't sure what she would make of these new "pearl" tampons. He was on the verge, I swear, of asking me to give him a product review, just for old times' sake, when the checkout clerk, a child of about 12 (are there not labour laws in place to protect all these children who suddenly seem to be working in responsible positions all over this city??), saved me by grabbing the little pink box, thus completing my order. But no matter how acrobatically she scanned those little pearls of great worth, the machine would not beep.
Other things started to happen.
Cashier: WHO KNOWS HOW MUCH THE TAMPAX PEARL SUPERS COST THIS WEEK?
Lanny: I used to be able to buy Ann-Marie a box of a dozen of those scented tampons for about $2.50, I think. Seems like a lot when you get right down to it.
(I think Ann-Marie has been in the Great Beyond for quite some time.)
Me: I will just go check and I'll be right back.
(Confession: I was thinking about fleeing. I am crazy good at seeing where situations like this are heading.)
Cashier: NO I WILL ASK PHIL ON THE PA SYSTEM JUST A SECOND AND WHY ARE YOU TURNING SO RED JUST BECAUSE I HAVE SAID PRICE CHECK TAMPAX PEARL SUPERS FOR CASHIER 3 TO ALL OF THE PEOPLE?
Phil returns. The price is $5.95.
Lanny: $5.95? Are you KIDDING me? I wouldn't spend more than $3 on a box of tampons for Ann-Marie!! And that's with that added perfume. Yours don't even have perfume.
Cashier two rows over: EXCUSE ME, SIR, BUT DID YOU SAY $5.95 FOR THE PEARL SUPERS? I THINK THEY'RE ON SALE THIS WEEK. YOU SHOULD CHECK AGAIN.
Lanny: Oh, they're not for me. My dear wife, Ann-Marie, passed away a few years ago. They're for this young lady. <pats my shoulder.>
AGAIN THE PA SYSTEM ASKS SOMEONE TO DOUBLE-CHECK TAMPAX PEARLS SUPER BOX OF 16 FOR CASHIER 3.
People are starting to crane their necks around the chocolate bar torture stations to check out who exactly is having all the trouble with--no: who is HAGGLING ABOUT--the price of tampons over at Cashier 3. I try to hide behind Lanny, who stops me flat in my tracks with a beefy smack on the back that nearly knocks me out of my shoes.
Lanny: That's okay, honey, they'll get this all straightened out for you in no time. I bet you just want to go home and lie down.
LANNY, YOU HAVE NO IDEA.