Checking Out

I noticed her shoulder first. It was bare, smooth, and well moisturized. She wore one of those soft fabric tank tops that cling and fall against the torso in flattering ways on most body types. It was one of those pleasant surprises that any male beyond the eighth grade would appreciate and move on without it getting too skeevy.

Eighth grade for me was in the mid-eighties, so like a man who had seen things, I emptied my shopping cart onto the conveyer belt. It was an assortment of snacks and heat to eat goodies for the many children that reside in my home: tater tots, hot dogs, ramen noodles, potato chips, cookies, sodas, artificially flavored juices. The sodium and high fructose corn syrup levels would spike shortly after I returned from the grocery store.

I was done, so I scanned the tabloid headlines, and then noticed the groceries in front of mine. Aside from some greek yogurt, it was almost entirely produce: a head of lettuce, tomatoes, packaged strawberries, zucchini, squash, a ginger root, eggplant and some other stuff I didn’t recognize. The stark contrast of groceries on either side of that grocery divider caused one part jealousy, and two parts shame. Jealousy, because whatever she was cooking looked more interesting than mundanity I had going on in my groceries; shame because I was a willing participant in this fast food nation of idiots who were getting fatter by the minute.

My eyes caught the fine tendrils of her hair that spiraled and curled towards the nape of her neck. It triggered a devolultion of thought that wasn’t appropriate for a man in my position. I assumed she could cook, and then I inserted myself into these imaginary informal gatherings, with imaginary friends, where we would drink cheap wine, tell stories and laugh, and she would lower her head and giggle at the impolite suggestions I would whisper in her ear when I stole a moment during this imaginary gathering.

I’d gone too far. It was a good possibility I crossed the line and had done some unabashed staring at strangers. I needed something to bring me back within the fold.

“Look what I got!” said my beautiful, adoring, never-do-anything wrong, wife, waving two pints of Butter Pecan Haagen Dazs.

“Nice” I replied.

“Oh! I forgot. Be a sweetheart and go get the diapers.” she said in an overly sweet voice to cushion the task requested.

“Yes dear”.