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Saturday night at the world

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and forgot to post it.

• 9:05 p.m.: I stop at the supermarket for orange juice and coffee creamer. Then I stop at the neighboring Wal-Mart. As I approach the store, I pass a woman standing at the curb with two kids, one of them young enough to be held in her arms. On the way past, I hear her say, "Look for a star. Can you see any stars? Make a wish." Reflexively, I looked skyward, but the bright lights of the parking lot had saturated the sky in dirty white. The little girl had nothing to pin her wishes on.

• 9:06 p.m.: I stepped into Wal-Mart with my mental notebook open, the idea being to take snarky notes on all the people I saw dressed in camouflage, all the women with hairdos that looked as if they were conceived during bar benders on cheap whiskey, all the men with hair apparently worn in tribute to the early-'80s incarnation of Ted Nugent, all the people who seemingly live on roads with the words "hollow" or "creek" in their names. I saw old men with stomachs too big for their grease-stained shirts sitting on benches and ogling the girls (high school, maybe. Maybe younger. Who can tell anymore?) wearing short shorts and tops they were spilling out of: "eying little girls with bad intent," as Ian Anderson once sang. I saw all that.

• 9:06 p.m.: But I also saw young mothers with two or three squalling children trailing them, and I contrasted their Saturday nights with the Saturday nights so many other people enjoy in leisure. I saw men and women doing the shuffle of the damned, the inner light of their souls obscured by a film of poverty over their eyes. I saw people who looked worn out, ground down, who looked as if they were doing the best they could just to tread the water of life. I saw and heard the cashier wearily ask me "And how are you?" after her manager told her that yes, she was supposed to have gone home at 6, but no, she still couldn't go home. "And how are you?" I asked back. She replied, with a plaintive roll of her eyes, "I've been standing here so long, my feet hurt so bad that I'm ready to cut 'em off."

• 9:17 p.m.: Granted, judging people by what they wear and how they look at the moment is an inexact science, minus the science. But still ... I put the snark pen away.

• 9:20 p.m.: Back in the parking lot, the stargazing woman with the two kids was gone.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 24th, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
You've taken the time to really capture a fifteen-minute thought segment that could've lived inside my head... that same segment I often think of writing about but for some reason these days, don't.
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
Yeah: Where has your blogging self been, anyway?
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:55 am (UTC)
I don't know. I feel like a blank canvas without the canvas part.
Apr. 25th, 2009 02:08 am (UTC)
It's a field lying fallow. That's what you told me once.
Apr. 25th, 2009 12:51 pm (UTC)
It's much easier to say that to you than to apply it to me.

Sometimes I have to remind myself as I wander around Wal-Mart thinking, "Where did you people come from, anyhow?" that I'm there too.

There are times, though, when snarky is all that can explain the Aqualung Bus that must've stopped to unload out front.
Apr. 25th, 2009 06:08 am (UTC)
Yeah, where has it been?
Apr. 25th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)
Either I gots nothin' that gots to get out or it's too dark in here and it can't find the door.
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
Nah, it's just taking a nap. Respect the nap.
Apr. 25th, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
The mothership retrieved them.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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