Friday, September 24, 2004

A Story

This will be a fun test of formatting...I wrote this story a while back and it has footnotes, so it will be interesting to see how those footnotes translate to the web. Also, this is one of the stories that worked pretty well and got me thinking about a nice collection of short stories about relationships--not just the happy, made into romantic comedies that star Hugh Grant kind, but every possible permutation (that I can think of)--but it also comes during the phase where I thought giving no names to characters could create a more universal appeal.

Also, I hoped by leaving the characters nameless the story would function as a literary Rorsarch Test, and people could project their own relationship experiance, advice and general hang-ups on the situation.

But the point is: if you're a stickler for stories with named characters, you'll be saddened. Get better soon.

Cleanup in Aisle 3

She was casually pawing through the loaves of bread, the boyfriend (whom she never thought of, when she thought of him, by his name[1]) was off an aisle or two over, picking out whatever varieties of high-calorie, high-fat, high in a general je-nois-se-quoi of bad-for-you-ness foods he would scarf down while watching baseball, when the ex walked by. The ex was just a glimmer in her peripherals at first, but she was sure it was him, the asshole, and quickly became very interested in the percentage of daily vitamins in Iron Kids bread. It didn’t help.
I should’ve known, she thought, it’s not like he’s never seen me from the back before, or in these jeans—of course the guy who couldn’t notice a drastically different haircut can recognize me by my ass alone. It figures.
She turned, preparing a mask of mock surprise that wouldn’t even fool the very gullible—but someone wanting to believe they weren’t being ignored could fall for easily.
“Oh. Hey.”
“So, how have you…um…been?”
“Just out shopping,” she didn’t want to be too dismissive or cruel, yet “with the boyfriend.” But a reinforcing of her situation couldn’t hurt.
She put a loaf of bread into her shopping cart, where it joined the following items:
three ears of corn
a ready made salad
two cases of beer (his, obviously)
a bottle of wine coolers (hers—also obviously)
a bag of Granny Smith apples (which she hoped to use as some way of weaning the boyfriend from cookies to healthy foods)
sliced luncheon meats
the his and hers magazine combo of Cosmo and Maxim,
and a pack of condoms, which she rather obviously placed into plain view of the ex as she added the bread to the cart.
She thought, for a guy that she had dumped two weeks previous, he was way too nonplussed at her non-single status.
“Well, y’all must’ve been going out for awhile then, if he’s going shopping with you.”
Was that a dig? Was he being sarcastic? She could never tell if guys were making fun of her or not. She hoped that the boyfriend would show up, see the ex “putting the moves on” her (she actually thought of it in such antiquated, quote-ready terms) and impart some sort of violence on the ex.
But that was not to be, because the boyfriend was busy checking out boxes of Chee-Toz and three nubile Tri-Delt pledges—fresh from the factory and the pool respectively. On some deep subconscious level, the boyfriend had an inkling that he was just an accessory to her, but he couldn’t articulate this—so he would try to get caught ogling other women and hope she would dump him instead[2].
After a few seconds, the ex simply said “later,” and walked off; she took out her grocery list, resumed shopping and waited for the boyfriend to find her.

[1] This depersonalization of a significant other might bother other women her age, but didn’t faze her. Of course, she never really thought about it either, which may have something to do with it.
[2] And as for “imparting violence”—forget it. The boyfriend, who did outweigh the ex by a good 50 lbs., had learned from experience that, in this day and age of karate, Billy Blanks, and jujitsu that being bigger and stronger only made you a bigger target and was quick to avoid physical conflict.

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