Supermarket Bitch

Written by John Fenderson

I'm not an old man by any stretch of the imagination, however I have reached a point where certain aging symptoms have begun to appear. I'm not particularly bothered by aging, but each stage of life has presented me with interesting physical changes, and this approaching-middle-age stage is no different. These changes fascinate me in part because I never seriously pictured them ever happening to me.

I was bitching to a friend of mine about one of the worst of these changes. Ear hair. He has a theory that since as you age you get shorter, all the extra ear (and nose) hair must be your actual bones being slowly extruded through larger pores in your head. Just stands to reason. But I digress.

He told me about this Magical Appliance that minimized the problem of removing hair from this new and strange location. This stuff is really very hard to shave or snip away without attracting sharks, but it can't be allowed to take root or you'll never be rid of it.

As he was telling me about the Miracle Device, I listened with interest to how this thing could easily relieve an irritation in my life. It was only after I'd resolved to get me one of them things that I realized what exactly we were talking about: Ear and nose hair trimmers. The products that as a kid I used to think were hilariously funny, as were the people I imagined purchased these things. It never even briefly flittered on the edge of my consciousness that there may come a day when I see one of these ads and think "what a great idea!"

"Well," I told him, "if I could screw up the courage to buy my first package of condoms and to go through with the first girlfriend-ordered tampon run, I can buy this." My fate was sealed.

There's a cute checkout girl at the store near my home. I enjoy flirting with her in a kind of light, offhanded manner. She's roughly half my age, which adds an illicit thrill to ogling her when I think she's not looking. So I went to the store get the Accursed Wand, and got into the checkout line. I deliberately chose the line based on the fact that

1. it was not the line that Cute Checkout Girl was working at, and

2. this checkout girl was, in fact, a 200 year old stump of wood that, at one time, may have borne a carving resembling a human being. She was well past giving a rat's ass what anybody buys.

These types of situations are exactly the ones that delight Eris.

The person ahead of me in line presented the checker with traveller's checks that for some reason wouldn't scan through the register properly. She inspected them more closely and decided that there were irregularities in their appearance that warrant calling the manager. The manager promptly arrived and closed the line while they figured the thing out. I will forever wonder what, exactly, I did to annoy this group of counterfeiters so much that they had to pass badly forged paper just to force me to face my doom. The bastards.

I stood behind them for a moment anyway, thinking I could just wait it out, but then Cute Checkout Girl called out "come over here, I won't bite."

I learned many years ago that you should never trust someone who says "trust me." So I trusted her. I nonchalantly placed The Item on the counter, and hoped she'd not really notice what it is. Or at least that she'd be polite enough to pretend she didn't notice.

I said hello and she smiled and picked The Item up. She looked at it, and the smile dropped off of her face, replaced by a look of confusion. She then actually held it up to show it to me and looked at me with a kind of blank, quizzical expression. The entire store fell silent, dimmed slightly, and a spotlight shown on me as the world waited for my explanation.

Trying to acknowledge my aging sin and thereby absolve myself of it, I said "I remember the day when I used to laugh at the ads for these kinds of things." To which she replied "I still do."

I laughed and told her "Let me tell you the horrible truth. One day, you're going to have to buy shit like this, too."

Chuckling self-consciously, I paid her and made my escape.

As I left, she called out "Happy trimming!"

All in all, it went better than that first pack of condoms.