Last Year’s Voice

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.”
– T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

It was the perfect end to a chilly day, and to a year that seems more like a long skidmark than merely the usual stretch of bumpy road.

I stopped at the supermarket on the way home this evening, picked up some oatmeal and almond milk for breakfast, corn meal for Dad’s New Year’s Day cornbread, some canned fruit (special occasions call for peaches), and my favorite celebratory beverage (when home alone), Diet 7-up.

There was a woman in line ahead of me at the check-stand, and I’d already noticed she was self-involved, because she’d left her basket of champagne and cheese on the end of the belt. There was plenty of room but she didn’t bother to make any space for my stuff.

Suddenly, she broke into performance, instructing the clerk to send the teenage kid who was bagging groceries to fetch her more bree. Her stock of pungent mold-ripened cheese wasn’t enough, and she made a speech to all within earshot, explaining her intentions to share it with friends. Next she ordered me to go ahead of her, which was cool. But her reason for that move was not very nice at all. Referring to the young man now gone off in search of more bree, she said this:

“It will be faster if I just go get it myself. He’s so stupid, he’s going to the wrong counter.” And she did not say it quietly.

Seems there are two cold cases in the store where cheese is displayed, one in back and one in front near the deli. The young man had gone to the front one, which was not correct.

I couldn’t believe it. The clerk and I had a chat, while little Marie Antoinette was gone, about how rude and ridiculous such behavior is. I was thinking that if it were me, I’d send the bag boy to return all of her crap to the shelves and tell her to get the hell out – we don’t need your business. But they probably do. I didn’t say anything like that. I have to live here.

Where do such people come from? I doubt she lives around here. Such behavior stands out in a small town. And if it trickles up to management, they will ban you from the stores, the banks, the restaurants. We’re used to summer tourists of all character stripes, but from under what rock do they slither in deep winter? Let’s hope the under-chilled wine mixes with the cheapass cheese and gives her a headache and bellyache.

El Kabong!


I say it was the perfect end because I’ve been thinking about the end of the year all day. I don’t think we should go through with it. Starting 2011 tonight, I mean. Bad idea. There’s still 5 hours left in my time zone, 2 hours on the east coast – it’s not too late – let’s just call it off. It doesn’t seem prudent to end a year in which we as a species got so very little accomplished. I don’t think 2010 is nearly finished yet, is my point.

Years should be like pro football games. If the four quarters end in a tie – a failure to win – we all go into Sudden Death Overtime. We just keep playing quarter after quarter until we can end one in meaningful and manifest success. And you get a big penalty for calling people names. Especially teenage kids who don’t know bree from beans.

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