The Beer Store
Walking into a beer store* and asking where you can find one single can of beer is kind of like walking into Burlington Coat Factory and asking where you can purchase a mitten. One mitten. Oh, there are the looks as you roam aimlessly through aisles of whisky and vodka, then stare shivering into coolers of 6-packs. Finally, your helpless eyes meet those of an employee. One beer? Upon consenting for help, the employee– who happens to have koolaid-orange facial hair– starts yelling across the store to the other, somewhat haggard, hippyish employees about where to find ONE beer. Now two of them stand on either side of you telling you, yes, Surly is surely the answer. It’s the best. I’ts MN beer for Paul Bunyon’s sake. So you take it. (All this for beer cheese soup, you think) And you take another bite of your apple because you are starving for dinner, and you and walk up to the counter. You fiddle with your purse, trying not to ooze apple juice onto the counter and you hear the cashier say, “so it’ll just be the one beer and an apple?” And you look up, maybe half-expecting a judgmental smirk, to see something like acceptance–in a stranger’s smile….
*I prefer beer store over liquor store. the word liquor seems nasty and harsh and looks kind of ugly and nearly threatens to infuse you with guilt or that gene that supposedly makes you susceptible to Alcoholism.
The Pocket Knife
You are hungry. And it’s never good to grocery shop when you are hungry. Even beef-flavored tea begins to sound good by the time you pull (not push) a staggering, on-its-last-wheel cart up to the cashier. You unload your cart methodically– dry stuff and cans, eggs & dairy, veggies and fruit. All the while you look sideways to the man in front of you, who’s very bushy head is leaning deep into his shopping cart’s belly. The cashier-boy waits patiently. Then you notice it– something in Bush-man’s hand. He is making little jabs with it. It’s a pocket knife. He is trying to cut out his coupons with a pocket-knife dull enough to clean your ears with. It takes nano-seconds for your brain to jump all over the place. How will this young, pre-pubescent cashier react? Will he ask Bush-man to put the “weapon” away? Is there such thing as grocery-store security? Are pocket knives legal to display in public?
Cashier boy leans out of his little cashier cocoon. He says, sir, If you’d like I can scan them right from the book. Bush-man grunts in acknowledgement. You smile. Cashier-boy scans flawlessly…
It’s been a long week. You come home to the smells of fermenting garbage and a chill that says your furnace is still not working properly. Usually, you loosen your stuffy dress clothes while leafing through a pile of bills. Tonight though, one lone letter has the familiar slant of grandma-script. So you open it, feeling the corners of your mouth lift a little at the lightness of thoughtfulness coming to rest on you.
Dear________ you read,
I am disappointed in you. I have not received a thank-you card from you for sending you a birthday card or Christmas card,..and I was not included in the thank-you for the wedding gifts from _____relatives . I write this only hoping to teach you a lesson….
You stop, pick up the phone and dial your grandma. You mention the letter, apologize for your lack of thoughtfulness (recalling in your mind the very in depth hand-written thank-you, sent for her wedding gift).
You know, it’s not only you, dear. She is saying, I won’t say names,… but your two brothers… Oh the tact! You mute the phone. You laugh. You let out all the tension like a balloon. You are practically snorting and your grandma is saying … And your cousins, all of them male, … You laugh a bit more…have also forgotten to say thank-you. You take a deep breath, take the phone off mute, apologize again. You are smiling now, telling your grandma you love her. And, at this moment, you are thankful.
It’s little stories like these that I wish to put in my zine. Nothing necessarily profound, but hopefully all very real. I will also be critiquing our local “pastry” shop’s donuts. (which may or may not include gas station donuts.) In this way the zine will have something consistent with a spattering of short stories. I want to hear from you! What do you think? Did you like/dislike the 1st person? Should I start a new blog for the zine writings only? Is the donut idea totally loco? (A little loco is okay with me.)