I get behind a guy in the Costco parking lot who’s got a buck with gnarled antlers next to a sticker of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes peeing on the name Obama, and next to that, it’s a take-off on the family car decals but a row of rifles that says My Family, all caps. It’s too late in the parking lot even though I got here early. You get there 15 minutes before it opens and they let you in, you muscle your way through to get a cart and rush so you can get out before it gets too crowded, before the sampling starts. There must be a thousand parking spots and they’re full all day, every day. It’s the Third of July and they’re closed tomorrow, so that, combined with deals on portable AC’s, has the line wrapped around the building with everyone scowling in the sun. I get clipped in the heel by a woman’s cart behind me who apologizes but I don’t turn around to acknowledge her, I don’t even feel it.
I pressure wash the deck before the sun gets too high and it smells like the water rides at the amusement park where I grew up in Allentown, PA. We got ribeyes, pink Crémant and corn in the husk and I grilled the steaks on my mother-in-law’s broken down grill which wobbles when you touch it and catches fire easy, and I’m spraying it to keep the flames at bay and it’s bobbing and seems it might just blow up or collapse and Dawn and her mom just keep on making small talk like nothing’s happening.
And although we’re moving to Europe to become expats for some time and there are parts of our country that sicken me, we are more alike than not, even the guy with the bad car decals I want to like, as long as I don’t have to look at him.
Lily mistakes anti-fungal cream for toothpaste since it’s in a similar tube, so Dawn calls Poison Control and I chastise her, and we nearly get in a fight about it, but I should just shut up; that’s usually it.
The ATM is broken where I take and deposit cash, there’s a red light that’s supposed to signal that but doesn’t, so a girl gets on the loudspeaker and says it’s broken, and I do a modified K turn to pull up to the drive thru for the first time in forever, have to fill out a slip, and the girl is the kind you might come back to if you’re a guy who needs some cash — why not have a human, if only for a bit?
I’ve near chewed the skin off my thumbs I’m so nervous, even though my shirt has a tag in it that says RELAXED I can’t, we’re in between homes, and I circle and pace and drink like a dog, in long laps with no breath between, living faster than I should.
When I get to the checkout they’ve just opened a new line and I jump on it but can’t keep up with the conveyor belt to load my things fast enough, the olive oil, the raw almonds, the bottles of wine, the toilet paper, the lemons — but I tell the guy to make sure he has a nice holiday and thank you, have a good day.
Outside there are guys with orange vests hauling the shopping carts with straps like they’re cattle, modern day cowboys, rounding them up, forcing them back into the stalls.