The milkshake was a mistake.
You knew better than to indulge in that decadent treat. You knew your lactose-intolerant gut couldn’t handle all that dairy bliss. Yet you did it anyway.
Now you’re paying the price.
As you wait in line at the discount store, your stomach cramps, gurgles, rumbles, and makes sounds no human organ should make. You tried looking for a bathroom, but the store is a maze.
And just your luck, the queue is taking forever. The customer at the checkout rummages her leopard-printed purse, passionately hunting for coins because she “thinks she has enough cash.” A minute passes. Two. Three. She asks the cashier if they accept checks. This is your punishment. She is your punishment. Telepathically, you demand she hurry the fuck up. Instead, the oblivious hag pulls out her glasses, checkbook, ID, pen.
You contemplate leaving. But you need the Imodium.
You think about changing lines. But the store is packed fuller than a Japanese bullet train on a Monday morning. Plus, it won’t matter which queue you choose. Luck is against you today.
Deal with it.
You know Kramer’s, next door, also has what you need. But it’ll be overpriced, just like the rest of their gluten-, wheat-, nut-, soy-, filler-, preservative-, and taste-free, non-GMO, non-high-fructose containing, organic, locally sourced, sustainable, keto-friendly, animal-friendly food products. So you stay. Because you’re a thrifty consumer – not some credulous hoity-toity dilettante.
Sure, their option for self-checkout is appealing. But you find their exorbitant pricing off-putting, ludicrous. Comparing prices on your phone, you justify your decision – the same product in your hand is seven dollars more at Kramer’s.
Seven. Whole. Dollars.
Unable to handle the pressure anymore, you let one slip. Silently. It reeks of rancid meat and burnt cabbage. The man in the muscle tee behind you doesn’t react. He’s busy looking at gum. Juicy Fruit. You then notice how striking he is – a Mario Lopez doppelgänger, complete with a set of dimples. And no ring. You imagine running your hands through his wavy black hair, feeling its silky texture flow through your own ring-free fingers. You dream about caressing his chiseled body, feeling the grooves of his wiry, sinewed arms, and rock-solid obliques.
He catches you staring; his dimples deepen a little. You look away.
At the counter, Check Lady licks her fingers, then thumbs through her checkbook, examining each page as if it were from a family photo album.
Good gravy, you think, and let another one slip – a real winner. You worry the stench has invaded Mario’s space. But he’s too occupied with the tabloids, reading about cryptologists who have deciphered the meaning of Elon Musk’s baby’s name.
You relax your shoulders.
But your abdomen feels distended. The button on your jeans is pushing into your navel. One more release, and you’ll be all set.
Check Lady says she is almost finished, but “oh, wait.” She messed up and needs to start again. Says she’s very sorry. The cashier palms his forehead, then shakes his head. You wonder if he’ll quit his job today.
A few moments pass before you hear: “Move to the side, please!”
A stack of toilet paper piled high maneuvers through the queue. The worker pushing the cart imitates a horn as if someone cut him off in traffic: “Beep, beep, beep.”
You take advantage of the distraction and squeeze the last one out.
At that specific moment, Mario scatters out of the way, stepping forward into your mephitic cloud of doom.
He smiles as you bump shoulders. His eyes glimmer into yours. But his dreamy expression is short-lived. Stepping back, his eyes squint, his nose wrinkles, and his upper lips turn in.
Your face flushes.
You nervously titter.
You look down at your shoes.
And suddenly you think seven dollars isn’t that much after all.