I'm used to email by now in all its flowering repercussions. Chain mail and spam for Cialis and Viagra and of course, fond letters in which people profess how taken they are with my kindness and my caring (and those are always welcomed, incidentally) but then I have to feel guilty because these are the people who didn't see me bite my tongue to keep from lashing out at the befuddled old man in overalls who interrupted me in the middle of a transaction at the dollar store with a screaming four-year-old in tow to ask the clerk: Where's the shaving cream? I can't find it.
And the clerk actually leaves her post, AS GOOD SENTINELS NEVER SHOULD, and physically accompanies the old man to the shaving cream aisle
, which is, naturally, as you'd expect, at the very back of the store, in fact they keep it in the warehouse behind the store and you have to take a shuttle to get there.
Meanwhile the kid is kicking me in the leg and screaming at decibels I wish only dogs could hear and all the people behind me in line are murmuring amongst themselves like a Greek chorus:
She's a very bad parent, yes, a very bad parent indeed.
Then in sprints the clerk as she breathlessly completes the sale, running my check through the register so it can be printed on the back and the old man, shuffling behind, stands rudely at the adjacent register waiting for her to STOP WAITING ON ME AND SERVE HIM FIRST, and when she doesn't (because I'm burning holes through the wall with my eyes) he comes behind the register and waves two dollar bills in her face.
His old wife is slumped over their cart by the door -- apparently they've already bought a great deal else and the shaving cream was a last-minute addendum to torture me with as they started for home -- and the clerk interrupts my transaction one more time to ring him out and then the old man and his wife just stand there totting over the receipt to make sure they weren't cheated.
Or they can't see. I don't know. I put the kid in the cart and the kid is already climbing out of the cart with one leg and I'm just trying to push us all out the door as expediently as possible but I can't leave the store, see?
Because the old man and his wife are blocking the exit standing over their loot counting up the total on their own because REGISTERS LIE.
This is what I want to shout savagely, as an embittered fishwife:
WHAT NOW? You forgot the soap? Or what.
But I don't. I sidle past them somehow, which is miraculous considering the girth of a cart and a flailing child and my own big corticosteroid-plumped butt, but we do it.
My child bellows as we sail past and the old woman looks over her shoulder and says disgustedly: "Good HEAVENS."
the rude one!
It gets better. They've parked next to us and as I'm buckling my child into the car and then walking around the side to put the groceries in, the kid unbuckles himself and marches right back around behind me, a sort of preschool drifter and draft dodger.
The old people are unloading their bags into their truck and staring open-mouthed as I hustle the kid back into his seat again, hissing unfriendly and disapproving things under my breath. They are just standing there and now THEY are murmuring amongst themselves.
I am now Anger Incarnate. I am inviting them mentally to the eternal center for theological punishment. I am encouraging them, in my mind: Say something. Come on, say it to me. Just one word or even two, so help me God, say something so I can rip your FREAKING HEADS OFF.
But they didn't. I had to stay silent and drive home (the kid kicking the back of my seat angrily and my head bobbing back and forth like a woodpecker's).
Now you are welcome to tell me again how kind and caring I am. Especially after reading my answers to the meme someone sent me in my email last night.1. NAME?
Sharon2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
Yes, after a little girl who always played hooky.3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY?
Yesterday.4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
Yes; only a lobotomy could change it, so I suppose I have no choice.5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT?
Ham. It's sin in between two slices of Wonderbread.6. KIDS?
Yes.7. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOURSELF?
How could I when I'm so reserved I still refer to myself in the third person?8. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL?
Used to. Then some people found it and read it and everyone got mad at me. Now I just publish my thoughts on the Internet. It's a lot more private. I'd highly recommend it to anybody.9. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?
No, never. And don't you use it, either. It's the lowest form of humor. That and anything performed by Carrot Top.10. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
Yes, I make it a point to hang on to all of the expendable organs. It's kind of like having a spare tire in the trunk of your car.11. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
Only if the bridge was on fire.12. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?
Cocoa Krispies13. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
No, I just cut off my feet. In the morning I just sew them back on again.14. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
Read #13 again. So much for speed reading.15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
The kind with no calories whatsoever. It's called water.16. SHOE SIZE?
If you want to buy me Ferragamos just say so. No need to hedge about.17. RED OR PINK?
Neither.18. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
What?19 WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
Santa Claus.20. DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU?
No, not particularly.21. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES YOU ARE WEARING RIGHT NOW?
Pants? Shoes? I'm Donald Duck today. I do have a nice blue jacket on, though. Brass buttons and everything.22. LAST THING YOU ATE?
Crow. It's a lot like turkey. There's only so many ways to serve it up, and it all tastes the same anyway.23. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
The sound of children clambering down the stairs to stop me from typing. It's as if I birthed a SWAT team.24. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?
Bittersweet.25. FAVORITE SMELL?
Calyx, by Prescriptives. Durr. The one straight answer in the lot.26. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
A telemarketer. It wasn't exactly a satisfying discourse. She wouldn't tell me her last name, and I wouldn't give her any money.27.THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO?
They aren't spitting when they talk.28. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU?
The real question is, do you like the person who answered it? Choose your answer carefully.29. FAVORITE DRINK?
Iced tea.30. FAVORITE SPORT?
Getting rejected for art showings. The adrenalin rush followed by a drenching in the stench of defeat -- there's nothing like it.31. HAIR COLOR?
Autumn.32. EYE COLOR?
Brown.33. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
No, I keep them in my day planner.34. FAVORITE FOOD?
My favorite food is...um....food.35. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDING?
Happy endings. Those are the scariest of all.36. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
A black-and-white biology film on the cellular structure of a protozoa.37. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
What, I'm in a police lineup? I'm wearing a lobster bib.38. SUMMER OR WINTER?
Winter. I look good in sweaters.39. HUGS OR KISSES?
Let's shake hands and walk away from each other quickly instead.40. FAVORITE DESSERT?
Pie.41. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND?
Me.42. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND?
Elvis.43. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING?
Chapter books. I gave the ones with big pictures in them to the kids.44. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
The mouse.45. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV?
I didn't.46. FAVORITE SOUNDS?
A flat, C, E flat. I like the flats. The sharps make me nervous. They're quite two-faced, sharps.47. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES?
Both.48. THE FURTHEST YOU BEEN FROM HOME?
California.49. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
Me and Steve Martin, yes.50. WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
I fell off a turnip cart. Yesterday.51. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU?