Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bowling for Democrats!

I made a trip to the grocery store yesterday, piling my fresh fruits and veggies up on the conveyor belt, pleased to be the first in line to check out.  As I slapped down the rubber divider behind my stash of groceries, a shaggy older man in a white Dodgers hat (as dirty as it was original) sauntered up behind me with a honeydew melon in his hand. His greasy gray hair was to his waist, tied back with a rubber band. He would have fit in at Venice Beach, kneeling over his chalk art next to a donation can or panhandling from a wheelchair with a one eyed dog in his lap.  He was leathery, unkept, and should have been wearing A LOT more than jean shorts and an ARMY tank top.  I know it is June, but it wasn't THAT hot outside.  Heck, even if it was August and the sun WAS melting the black off the concrete --STILL! More clothes, Sir, PLEASE, more clothes.  You need a bit more material to contain all the white, wiley hairs sprouting out of your knees, shoulders and nape.
He palmed his honeydew melon like a basketball in his bronze hand and placed it carefully down on the conveyor belt.
"Looks like I got myself a bowling ball, doesn't it?"  He chuckled.  His white mustache was flat in some parts, bushy in others.
"Sure, does!"  I was surprised at how friendly my voice was.  I tried not to look at his knuckles.  The hairs on them seemed to wave at me. 
"You should stand back and bowl that thing!"  I heard myself saying. 
Why was I being so friendly?  Jesus please help me stop the madness!  I don't want to be like you right now!  This man has only three teeth and two are brown!
He laughed so loudly that I thought for a moment I may have a future in stand-up.
"Naw," he said once he had contained himself, "then I would just end up knockin' your stuff all over the place."  He pointed at the bananas, blueberries and milk stacked up on the belt.  I smiled and nodded.  He laughed again. 
Settle down soldier. Settle down.  I was talking to myself at this point, even though I have never served in the armed forces.  Don't be too friendly or you'll end up being asked out to the "Veterans' Bingo & Boozefest" at the Mooselodge tonight.  He probably has his '75 El Camino all Armor-Alled up and ready to go.
I started chatting up the checkout girl.  She asked if I had found everything I needed.  I said yes, but that I was sure I had forgotten something.  We commiserated on how you have to get all the way home before you realize you forgot that one important item (usually the one you came to the store for before you got distracted by the gummy bears and cheese puffs.) There is a noise you make in your kitchen when you get home and realize that you forgot THAT ONE THING.  It sounds like Arrghhkkk or something similar.  I told her that if I HAD forgotten something, I would have to come back HERE to THIS STORE because I wouldn't pay the prices at Albertson's even though the store is practically next door to my house.   
On hearing this, the bristly beachcomber spoke up.
"That's because this here supermarket doesn't have a union."
You could hear the air go out of the supermarket.  This was Republican territory so when someone says "union" in public, there is a noise like a record screeching and then the entire room goes silent so everyone can hear which side of the picket line you are on.
Just then, an older lady walked up with a plastic container of strawberries held high in her hand.  She was petite, dressed like a snappy east coaster and her face was fresh and light, like a newly cleaned window.
"These are bad," she held them out toward the checker, "do you mind if I just switch 'em out with another one?"  The checker leaned forward.  She hadn't heard what she said.  Happy, hairy hippy man was continuing on.
"So we pay higher prices, we pay more for everything in fact.  Government is the dirtiest business there is.  Worse than the trash guy. We pay all these taxes, more and more, and for what?"
He was bowling for Democrats.  Like a big, glossy gray marbled ball his words were sent rolling to see how many Demo-commies he could bowl down.  His words lined 'em all up so he could knock 'em all down.  Like the melon in his hand, he had let it go and it was intended to wreak havoc. 
Unfortunately, the glowing preppy senior with the rotten strawberries was the first pin to fall.
"Well, I like having plenty of police and firefighters and clean streets when I drive around."  Seemed simple enough.  She tried again to tell the clerk what the problem was.
"I do too, but why should I have to pay for all that?"  Mr. Venice 1972 replied.
"Because you live here!" Bad berry buyer and I shouted together in unison.  We startled himwith our coordinated chorus of chastisement.  He rubbed his chest nervously.  Now the neck of his tank top was even lower than before. I looked away quickly before a few more gray hairs could escape from their cotton prison.
Oh dear.
I immediately wanted to tell him that I was not a Democrat.  His ball had jumped a lane. I was an independent.  In other words, my party never has a presidential candidate to vote for and am not sure if I want a Ron Paul Revolution or a Beatles one.  I love America.  I hate politics.  I registered independent because I felt, in one word, it described me best.  Yeah! Independent! Don't tell me how to vote! But now, I was laying on my side, waiting for his next throw, bowled over by the right wing Dodger fan with face stubble so far past 5 o'clock it was climbing into bed.  I wished Ms. Mable LL Bean and I had just jumped out of the way of his ball, but it had hit us head on.
Isn't that how it works?  Those trigger words that line us up like pins.  For some it is "global warming" or "Prop. 8" or simply "Obama."  For others it is "Christian" "born again" "evangelical" or my personal favorite "born again Evangelical Christian."  Phew. Say those words and you'll have so many pins lined up you'll need a team of professional bowlers who can put plenty of spin on the heaviest balls in the alley.
Sharp senior was told she could switch out her strawberries.  I swiped my ATM card to pay for my low priced groceries, plus the nearly 10% sales tax. The non-union bag boy handed me my plastic, bird killing bags. While the Menace from Venice handed his melon to the clerk, this pinhead independent headed out into the heat with her organic carrots and styrafoam plates.

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