Once in a grocery store in Brooklyn the cashier seemed sad and preoccupied. When I asked her how she was doing, the story came out that she’d felt a lump and was about to go see the doctor.
She then reached over and pulled my hand onto the side of her breast and said, “It’s here, over here.”
It was winter and she was wearing a thick sweater, so I couldn’t feel anything. I don’t remember what I said, but I’m sure I was sympathetic.
Several weeks later, I asked her how she was and I think she answered distractedly that she was fine, seemingly forgetting that I had felt her up just a few weeks ago and she had practically been crying in my arms. I saw her periodically over the next year whenever I needed coffee or pickles or vast quantities of beer, and everything seemed to have returned to “normal.”
A more humorous encounter involved an older woman crossing the street with me one afternoon. I don’t know how we got into the topic of marriage, but her husband was dead, she was good with it (she lived in a 55 and older *active* senior building) and she summarized marriage this way: “I was a maid, a cook, a slave, and a hooker.”
In a completely different situation, how I got on the bad side of Mrs. Bacchus, the elderly woman who lived in our old apartment building, is still a mystery.
She was like a human version of a parrot. Evidently, if a couple buys a parrot, the parrot will generally end up bonding with either one or the other, but not both. So it’ll only talk to one, accept snacks from one, sit only on one’s shoulder, and spend the rest of its life ignoring the other half of the couple.
Mrs. Bacchus made it perfectly clear that she was a human parrot when my husband was emptying her trash for her one day (she was always asking him for favors) and she passed along some unexpected advice: “You need to get a better wife.”
The only problem was, I hadn’t bought her, and neither had my spouse, but yet somehow the weird, unpleasant bonding had happened anyway.
There was a missed opportunity at Smart & Final going on a year ago. A woman in a Rascal came racing up to me out of the baking aisle saying, “What’s going on? Isn’t it crazy?”
I was like, “What’s crazy?”
“You mean…politics? Or just in general?”
“In general! But politics too. Oh, don’t get me started!” And then she added, “Trump’ll get re-elected.”
Assuming she was saying this in a doom and gloom manner, like an Oracle of Negativity powered by Rascal, I said, “Oh, God, I hope not.”
There followed a long, pregnant pause…after which she said slowly, like something had just occurred to her (which it obviously had), “Oh….you don’t like him.” And then, “Why don’t you like him?”
I was like, “Why? Do you like him?”
“Yes, of course!”
She answered me impatiently, as if I had just asked, “Are we breathing air?”
Looking back, I realize I should have stayed there, probing, performing an impromptu autopsy of her psyche, but I was in a hurry and wasn’t in the mood to explain that I would dislike anyone who ran for president because they were jealous of Gwen Stefani’s salary on “The Voice”.
Strange how so many of my encounters occur at the grocery store, and usually always with women.
Do I keep forgetting items and have to shop constantly, and do women always outnumber men three to one at Ralphs and Pavilions? If so, that would just confirm that 1., Mrs. Bacchus was right on target recognizing me as a bad wife and 2., the woman whose marriage consisted of furniture polish and unwanted sex was also correct in that women’s work is never done.
I was walking through the Ralph’s parking lot a week ago and a woman passing me by said, “Are you happy?”
Immediately I was like, oh, my God, here we go. I smiled and said, “No.”
She pointed at my shirt and said, “It says ‘Happy.’”
I had, indeed, forgotten that I’d thrown on my black T-shirt that had the word “Happy” written across it in white letters.
“You’re not happy?” She seemed fairly confrontational. “Your shirt says ‘Happy,’” she reminded me again.
“I guess I’m trying to convince myself,” I said.
And that was true. I remember seeing the shirt in the store and thinking, “Ha. Hilarious.” Maybe through osmosis happiness would melt through the material and leak into my skin. Maybe its aura would douse my personality in a bath of beauty and joy.
That Happy shirt is kinda old now, though, and I don’t think that way anymore. I feel like happiness is overrated. It’s too fleeting, like trying to catch the wind. Being satisfied is better. Satisfaction is achievable, and durable, like a sturdy pair of comfortable jeans. I’m sure this is old news to a lot of people.
My lady encounters all have one thing in common, though (besides being weird): the search for happiness and the reasons why it’s so hard, in a moment, in a lifetime, in part of a lifetime, in an afternoon, to attain it. And even harder to keep it.
With satisfaction, everything might be different. It could act as an ethereal ballast for serotonin rushes and mercurial emotions.
People might bounce back faster from health scares and the world might not seem any crazier than usual and insulting someone’s wife probably wouldn’t be their first go-to and they might not care as much if they were a whore for their partner, and they’d just laugh and flip off the parrot every time it refused to acknowledge their existence.
So…a satisfying Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate it.
Pleasant, peaceful, satisfying holidays to you.
And most definitely have a potentially promising, hopeful, encouraging, favorable, enlightening, optimistic, revitalizing and satisfying 2021.