Fourteen minutes. Fourteen goddamn minutes.
Juggling a bottle of grape Mad Dog 20/20, a box of ClairolExtra Light Blonde #10, and six chocolate-fudge Slim Fast Bars, Cathy stares at the coquettish eyes of the only cashier open and watches as she flirts with the guy buying cigarettes and a case
of Blue Moon. If only Cathy had said no to covering the shift of yet another no-show at work, she would have been home by now. She furrows her brow and feigns interest in the rag-magazine headlines.
I’ll just wait until the second hand reaches the seven, and then maybe I’ll say I need to go because I have a dog in the car, she thinks to herself. Cathy pastes a small smile on her face, and phrases like give them a break and they’re young, you were young once too cheerlead in her mind. Her eyes search for an ally, someone who will motivate this young Romeo to move along. Where’s a poorly disguised undercover narcotics officer when you need one? To her dismay, the only other customer in the store appears to be deeply involved with a Penthouse Forum magazine. Cathy makes a show of checking her wristwatch again.
Prince Charming’s fingers provocatively brush the palm of the young girl’s hand as he gives her the cash and mentions something about a party. He leans on the counter. trying his best to display his flexed bicep from underneath his never-laundered, always-open flannel shirt that smells like cheap vodka. pot, and freeloading.
The cashier rolls her eyes up his body, and just before making eye contact. a strategic strand of blonde hair falls across her face. In that moment, she adjusts her hips slightly in an attempt to portray burning desire, but to Cathy, really ends up looking more like she is suffering from an untended yeast infection.
Purposely dropping his change, the cashier bends forward stripper-style, retrieves three quarters, and rises slowly, causing her propped-up cleavage to spill provocatively in his direction. She whispers, “I get off in an hour.” Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out a tightly-rolled twenty dollar bill and makes a show of flattening it, licking his fingers as if remnants of his day’s activities can still be tasted. Romeo holds the cashier’s gaze and grabs a few packets of condoms hanging from the impulse rack and replies, “Hmmm … I
can so make sure you deliver on that promise.
Cathy clears her throat.
The you-should-try-getting-laid-yourself smile pasted on the cashier’s face brings on a middle-age hot flash, and sweat instantly rolls from underneath her wireless Playtex bra and down the stomach that her ex-husband no longer finds attractive.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Cathy yells so loudly that the Penthouse pervert peeks over the top of his magazine and stares. Casanova and his cashier gape with bewildered expressions.
“Ma’am, I’ll be with you in just a moment,” the checker carefully says in a tone meant to sound rational and adult, but Cathy knows that tone. She’s making Cathy wait and endure this juvenile mating ritual because she is the type of girl who loves having control.
Cathy realizes the entire store thinks she’s gone mad, but she doesn’t care anymore. “I have been standing in this goddamn line for twenty minutes while you flirt with this useless piece of meat who will, by the way, be drunk before you get to his party, where he’ll convince you to have sex, and you’ll end up pregnant. You’ll be raising babies and working double shifts, and that partying you find so appealing now will undo you, and someday, someday you will be staring into a mirror, wondering how you ended up sharing custody with this Ken doll and a perky blonde stripper.
“And don’t even get me started on the in-laws because I’m telling you right now, this acorn didn’t fall far from the tree, and one Christmas while you’re cleaning up the Hamburger Helper and everyone else is in the living room watching reruns of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, that good-for-nothing son-of-a-bitch father-in-law will corner you by the refrigerator, and the combination of his gingivitis, dirty sweat, and Boones Farm wine will make you want to vomit, and to creep you out even more, he’ll pant that he wants you on your knees with nothing on but a confederate flag G-string.
“Or we could just wait and see how you like pulling overtime at work, piled high in crap, changing the sheets of a patient whose colostomy bag burst, and getting the message that your ’95 Dodge Neon, the only thing that’s yours, the used car you worked two years to make the down payment on, is being towed away, all because the money you gave to Joe Stud here for the car payments went to lottery tickets and a pile of blow that he snorted up with his ex-girlfriend.
“And if you thought, living ‘in chat crappy apartment ‘by the freeway was bad, just you wait, because one day, that same ex-girlfriend will conic) knocking on your piece-of-crap door in her tube top that reads, ‘Don’t hate me because I’m boobyful,’ to tell you that he’s in jail and needs to make bail, and the last thing you’ll remember before you start hurling twelve-ounce cans of Spam at her is the bounce of her tribal tramp stamp as she runs toward her front door, and the cops will give you that I’ve-heard-it-all-before look as they arrest you for assault, and this rock star here will end up sleeping in his ex-girlfriend’s waterbed while you spend the night in a cell.
“Yeah, girly-girl, go to the party. Get drunk. ‘Your nightmare is just beginning, and that’s fine with me, but before you do all of that, could you just ring up my goddamn order?”
The cashier silently walks around the counter, tucks her phone number in Ken’s waistband, cocks her hip, and says, “If you say so, Mom.”