Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Baptist Drug Store

     I noticed yesterday I was running low on my new favorite dessert. If you mix the Ozark brand chocolate covered cashews with the salted caramel cashews it is a, what did I call dark chocolate Reese's cups years ago? An oralgasm. I had to hunt through the display over-filled with cinnamon pecans and other stuff but I finally found them. When I got to the register, the line was four deep.

    A guy immediately got in line behind me - he was tall and about ten or fifteen years older than me with frizzy curly white hair.  Then another guy got in line behind him - he was short and 40ish with a bald head, a big beer belly, a stained white t-shirt, baggy tan slacks, and dirty white tennis shoes. The line is never this long at the Baptist drug store, but I had the last bags of my desired food items in my hand so I had to suffer it.

    It moved slowly. The guy behind me said something, it took me a second to register what it was and that is was directed at me. I asked him to repeat it. Do you know what the most popular candy bar in the country is? I'm in the food service industry, I've worked in grocery for years. I looked down at the Smorgasboard of candy bars just below eye level right when bald guy said Snickers.

    I said no. Cannot be. I hate Snickers, always have always will. No he's right, frizzy hair said. See how it is right by the register? You place them according to popularity. I was actually at the factory once that makes them. It's in Waco Texas. You should have seen the production line. And they pack them up thousands and millions filling semi trucks to deliver all over the country. Not for me, I said, I like Reese's Pieces and Butterfingers and Reese's cups. Those are all popular too, he said, but Snickers are the most popular because they are a little less sweet and adults like them better when they outgrow their sweet tooth. The logic of this statement seemed faulty, but I didn't argue.

    At this point the woman in front of me had finally finished her payment and it was my turn. I wasn't sure what to say so I quipped - that would make a huge mess if the truck wrecked, especially a fiery wreck. Then I searched for a way out of this bizarre conversation and saw Eyad Abochale, my long time pulmonologist friend. Hi how are you? I asked - he was headed over to Boulevard the long way. He grabbed my elbow - this is unusual he's not touchy, and said fine. How was your weekend? I asked cheerfully to steer frizzy into a new direction. Um, it was ok.

    This is not Abochale. It was like he was carrying an emotional cloud I've never seen before. But it was my turn to pay. Donetta, who works the register and at Subway, exclaimed at how long the woman before me took to find the right credit card that would go through after I said I've never seen it this busy. Donetta a single mom with young twins. Her mom passed of Covid a few years ago, and I noticed a lovely tattoo about a month back with a woman holding two kids and exclaimed over the detail. I finally saved up enough money to get a tattoo of my mom holding us kids, she said. I got a little teary. Tina told me her mom worked the front entry to Baptist for years, helping people find direction. Tina said she was lovely, and I relayed that to Donetta the next time I saw her.

    As I was exiting the gift shop I saw Abochale about 20 feet behind me so I held back outside the gift shop. How are you? I asked. How is your day? My mom, she's 80. She lives alone. What? Your mom? She's in Syria. In my brain I chided myself. I knew that he was from Syria and I'd just read about the earthquakes but he told me that over a decade ago and I'd forgotten. Is she ok? I just read about it. 7.8 then 7.5 depending on the news source with aftershocks expected.

    He told me the first one went off at four in the morning. She ran out in the street and the panic and crowds terrified her. Then the second one went off and she ran again and she was so scared. I just got off the phone with her. She said Eyad, if it happens again, I'm not running. I'd rather die in my own surroundings than get crushed to death on the streets. God, imagine being at work and having that happening to your mom a million miles away. 

    Eyad told me that he was questioning God. I mean, Syria is already rocked from civil war and many of those people have no water or electricity and now this happens? I said I know, in my head thinking fuck Putin he deserves a terrible death and many terrible lives for the rest of time. I told him I did read one story about a father who was running from the house with his wife and kids in front of him and a door fell on his back. All his neighbors died but the family lived bc they were shielded by the door. Good things come from tragedy, but at what cost. I texted him last night that I'd be sending daily prayers and love to his family and mom for a while.

    Gotta go in for a bit tomorrow to finish up some clingon cases, as we call them. But I've got the rest of the week off and looking forward to Eureka this weekend. Back at the Peabody, where I've got a balcony and it's winter so we can see the downtown. I gave up on the Basque history books they were boring even the NYTimes bestseller ones. Plus I want to learn when I get there and if I read too much I might school my guides. Kevin Wilson is freaking hilarious I'm dying laughing at his newest book. I texted Kandi about it Sunday. She said she tried to get her daughter to go to Sewanee she loves him so much. So new body of work to read. Kandi is in my new four docs and the new Wordsworth owner (she bought it!!!) book club. Staying small. Happy my Friday, much love, Elizabeth


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