Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Sweating Anomaly

I had the strangest experience today.

I was standing in a Wawa -- it's a convenience store in this neck of the world; there are so many of them in my state that you tend, while driving, to say, "Mah -- that one's on the wrong side of the road; I'll wait for the next Wawa." There's always a next Wawa; always, and hard upon the last. I don't doubt that they're connected by underground tunnels hung with oil lanterns.

Anyway, I was standing (leaning, really) in one of these ubiquitous Wawas, waiting for the young woman behind the counter to grudgingly slap together the sandwiches that I had ordered as part of dinner -- the unhealthy composition of which more or less negates any good thing I have ever done as a father or husband -- for the family. (My, I'm feeling parenthetical today.)

It's been near one-hundred degrees for a few days 'round here. Sweating people trudged wetly in and out, buying sports drinks, chips, cookies, cigarettes, beef-jerky, milk, bread and queso dips of various hues. The tired plastic bags in their tired hands were loaded with little packages of death-hastening treats. And they didn't care, because life is busy and it is hot and they just want something nice in the midst of a day that sucked fat ostrich eggs.

Leave me alone, each face said, in weary silence. Just leave me the hell alone! What more do you want from me? It's been a long, hot day. My children are chittering little dung beetles and my spouse is a soul-eating extraterrestrial. I NEED this brownie and I am going to wash it down with this ice-cold Coke and when I'm done, I might lick sugar cubes until the entire box is gone and my wrists drip with stickiness! So, BACK OFF!"

Really. That's what they wordlessly said.

Okay, Okay! was the message I sent back, through a flat-lipped grin and a nod, to each departing heat-zombie. See? I, too, am partaking of salt-packed, health-corroding happiness. We are brothers, you and I.

"Six-thirty-seven," (that was the actual number) said the sandwich-making girl, shoving the little paper torpedoes at me with a disconnect that could only say: "I don't respect you or even care if you like these damned things. I'm in, like, college. I'll start caring when my job is real and the people serve actually matter. Unlike you and your ugly, smelly family."

Really, that's all it could have meant, that shove. I'm good at reading shoves.

As I was gently sliding the sandwiches into the bag, so as not to molest the chips (crisps, to my cyber pals across the wine-dark sea) I looked up and saw...the anomaly.

A sweaty young kid -- maybe sixteen -- with a towel around his neck and headphones on his ears, dirtied and weary, probably from a practice at the high school across the street, stood at the counter, holding an apple. An apple. Looked like a "Granny Smith" -- smooth and apple-green. That was it. Just an apple. He had a dollar in the other hand.

What is he going to do? I wondered, the last meatball sandwich hovering around in the air as I tried to put it into the bag without looking.

Know what he did? He bought the apple, took a crunchy, juicy bite, and bopped out the door, quietly rapping a hip-hop ditty to himself. He chewed happily into the heat-haze and disappeared around the corner with a Michael Jackson spin. (Okay, I added that for effect.)

Who does that -- buys an apple in a convenience store? That kid's not careful, he might live to eighty.


  1. The Wawa near me (they are not so plentiful in Maryland as in New Jersey, but there is one within a mile of my house) sells a pretty good packet of grapes with cheese cubes and pita chips. I buy one sometimes when I have to put gas in the car. I don't think I've ever seen anyone buy just an apple, though.

    1. And here was me thinking all that fruit was plastic --just for the ambience. Hmmpf.