Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Balding men buying groceries

I need a wedding ring.

Just had the most unpleasant experience: I walked Greg to the park, where he was meeting up with a fellow dog owner to embark (ha) on a short journey with our dog Waffles and little Chloe, an adorable mini Dachshund, and Chloe's owner Suzy. Chloe bathed my face in dog-kisses, and put her paws on my knees as I bent down to accept the kisses. Suzy managed to greet me less enthusiastically as Waf dog-kissed her, and leashes were entwined, resulting in a very amusing comedy routine which culminated in my usual punch line: Don't cross the streams.

That wasn't the unpleasant experience.

I told Greg, "Okay, going to the store to get dinner. Is chicken okay?"

"Yup. Fine." He was already sweating. It's humid and hot in NYC right now, and he was wearing a grey shirt, which is not a good idea on a hot and humid day. Sweat shows up even when you're wearing a white shirt, but grey shirts really reveal the amount of moisture one's body is losing.

That wasn't the unpleasant experience, at least not to me. For Greg, who knows. I mean, his sweat-levels were impressive. Grey shirts in summer are like wearable thermometers.

I said goodbye, and walked over to C Town. While listening to Alec Baldwin interview Rosie O'Donnell on his podcast. And she was telling Alec about recently encountering two young girls holding hands in Central Park. "It was amazing to me, Alec. Here are two young girls holding hands! And I asked them how old they were. We're in 10th grade, they told me. I almost cried. The freedom now! And of course to them I'm just some old lady and they were like, Oh, it's nice you think we're cute. Thanksbye!" And I almost cry. Standing at the corner of 207th and Broadway, listening to this story from Rosie O'Donnell, I teared up. Freedom! Yes.

But that wasn't the unpleasant experience. I'm used to openly weeping in public over sentimental things. One time, on the train, I listened to David Rakoff dance and cried so hard the woman sitting next to me shoved a tissue in my hand. Listened to David Rakoff dance, mind. As in, I didn't visually lay eyes on his dance. I just heard it.

No. The unpleasant experience was in C Town. 8pm on a Monday is apparently when all the single, middle-aged men go shopping. And I--who am not single--was among them.

True, there were some assumptions on my part. It is possible that most of the men at C Town on a Monday at 8pm were not single--that it was just me being hyper-observational. I mean, the men--mostly white in a Dominican-dominated neighborhood--were just as happily married as I, and did not see the point of a wedding ring marking them as 'Gotten Goods' just as I see myself and Greg. But the bald ring was present on all of them--the George Costanza hair, the half-loop of Men of a Certain Age, Lobots wandering the dairy aisle without a Lando Calrissian to direct them.

But their concert t-shirts (The Who, The Doors) and their khaki board shorts and their depressing sandals belied them. They were single men, probably divorced, and living alone with their groceries. Their groceries, which were equally sad: a container of milk; a package of cookies; some cereal; some frozen pizzas. And they lacked the ability to commit to an actual cart with wheels, as each of them used a basket, the handles of which fit neatly into the crook of the arms like they'd been born with it.

The basket, not the crook.

And there I was, wearing a Manos T-shirt, jeans, flip-flops, and swinging my own basket around. Inside the basket: a package of chicken strips, chicken marinade, Alexis organic frozen fries.

I had hair (and still do, 10 minutes later, although I'm surprised it's still there). But I was dressed so of these men that I felt one of them. I was/am wearing the uniform of the slightly cool, disenfranchised dad/ex-husband, and I was almost offended when a young guy, who was with his wife and baby and loading up on frozen peas, gave me a thumbs-up. I paused the Alec/Rosie podcast and said, "WHAT?"

There was no need for me to shout. I'd turned the podcast off.

"Your shirt," the guy said as his wife--torso-deep in the freezer looking through the packaged peas as if they were fresh fucking produce--glanced back at me. "Love that movie."

"Thanks," I mumbled. Smiled. For a moment, I felt as if I'd created that movie.

Random fact: I don't wear shirts with things on them, usually. I don't like being that guy, who has his entire pop-culture experience plastered across his chest as if, having no real identity, he looks to clothing to make him personable. But here I was, in a grocery store to pick up dinner for myself and my husband, with a Manos image on my chest, definitely delighted that some other guy--standing in an aisle as his wife sorted though packaged frozen vegetables as if they were real--gave me a thumbs-up over it.

I've become a balding, single white guy in Inwood who wears pop-culture on his chest as a way of being an individual. I'm actually married, be-haired, and never wear pop-culture on my chest unless we forget to pick up the laundry.

I suppose the basket fits in the crook of my arm just as well as any other arm-crook. And Rosie O'Donnell can, indeed, make me cry.

Lesson learned: Wedding rings are for suckers.

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