When my mood is this sour I know I should just stay home, drink shots of pickle juice and crawl back into bed. But I didn't. So I found myself standing in the checkout at a Sprout's Health Food Store. For those of you not familiar with Sprouts the place is a haven for health nuts. A quarter of the store space is taken up with thousands of vitamins and herb blends that will strengthen your heart, give a sixty year old man impressive erections or insure a smooth and steady bowel movement. Organic eggs, organic meat and soy milk products take up another quarter of the store. I just frequent the store because the veggies and fruits are cheap.
But the problem with going into this store is that you are surrounded by eighty and ninety year old people who live on alfalfa sprouts and kale and haven't had a single bite of ground round pass their lips since 1968. When feeling devilish they might party on an ounce of salmon or raw sushi, but nothing else shall slow their quest to achieve centenarian status.
I've my own thoughts about how long I want to live. When I was younger and sassier I loved to cite the often offered saw that death from a massive coronary while between the legs of a 21 year old would be the ideal way to go. Now, with far less piss and vinegar, I'd settle for a nice quick heart attack in the middle of sleep. I do not want to live so long that someone is coming in daily to change my diaper and chew my food for me.
But today, in the most sour of moods, I'm swimming in a sea of octogenarian health food nuts here in the Sprouts store. Sadly, the alfalfa sprouts and kale has done nothing to preserve the mind so too many of the old ones walk around in a mental fog, a spring in their step while the spring in their mind has already sprung.
The lady in front of me at the checkout is one of them. She's got a bag of steel cut oats, a single banana and a quart of prune juice. Her cash register total is $5.87. She waits until the cashier has bagged her goods in the environmentally appropriate cloth bag before she even begins to think about paying for her purchases. So, as the cashier announces the total and stands waiting, the old lady, seemingly startled that reimbursement is required, finally begins digging into her purse to retrieve her coin purse. And I'm waiting. The old lady takes an interminable period of time to drag five one dollar bills out the coin purse, then pauses and stares into the coin bag to assess whether she has enough change to avoid proffering a paper dollar. She pulls out a quarter and stares at it longingly, perhaps contemplating the date on the coin and pondering if that was some good year in her long life. She then reluctantly places the quarter on the counter and begins fishing for more change. Another quarter magically appears and she repeats the grudging sacrifice and finally places it too down on the counter. She then puts her purse down and begins digging into it and finally retrieves a pair of reading glasses. She dons the glasses and begins again the slow dig for more change. She then begins the quest to rid herself of the smallest change in her coin purse. Her bony fingers begin seeking out all available nickels. She's got enough five cent pieces to bring her up to .80 cents, at which time she begins pinching the little coin purse for pennies. By this time my carton of milk has begun sweating down the sides and my pound of ground sirloin is warming nicely. The old lady is still checking the dates on her pennies before surrendering them and now even the cashier is sighing hard enough to send her bangs flitting about her forehead.
At last, the transaction completed, the cashier offers remote thanks and begins dropping the coins into their various slots in the cash drawer. But the elderly customer is not yet done; she is now complaining that last weeks kale went bad on her too early. The cashier asks if she'd like to talk to the manager whom she's sure will replace, gratis, any defective kale the old lady had suffered to buy. By this time I'm right on the edge of saying something really nasty. Thankfully, Ms. Penny Pincher purses her lips, declines the offer and walks out with her oats and banana and prune juice.
I quickly pay for my purchases and vow to go home and beat my little dogs, just for giggles.