‘Fuck!’ he shouted when we were at the end of the dairy aisle,
pointing somewhere beyond the checkout counters and queues.
Again a definitive, high-pitched ‘fuck! Fuck!’ and
the gentleman beside me, choosing between alternative milk yoghurts, gave me a look–
a look I interpreted as an exasperated ‘ugh.
Parents these days… let their kids say anything. Mind you,
the language coming from the parents is no better’ look,
but was probably just a ‘I know what he is trying to say
and it isn’t that hard to understand
if you’re an attentive parent’ look.
I guess it’s possible he might have just had a face that looked like that,
one that wasn’t actually saying any of that.
It’s the pet food aisle we glide back through, always having forgotten
eggs or oats or some other staple.
He squawked, ‘do’! Do’!’ at a Labrador on tins
(at least, I think it was a Labrador,
but as I come to describe it to you now,
all I can describe is a creature that looked like a dog, any dog:
fur, droopy tongue, soft brown eyes
full of desire for affirmation),
and ‘ca! Ca!’ at a cat.
I’ve no idea what kind of cat.
There are kinds of cats, right? Oh yeah,
for example, the ones without tails: Manx.
It wasn’t a Manx.
My groceries chugged along the conveyor belt and, while he grasped
at names for vegetables and fruit, I replayed
in my head the conversation I had last week
with an acquaintance in which I said
things that were stupid
but so did she
and I hated myself every time I thought about it for five days after that.
Day eight today, and I hate myself less. Because when she said,
‘you should keep an eye on that. What if it gets worse?’ and
all I heard was ‘blah blah–stupid stupid–you’re a stupid person–
do you really trust your own stupid intuition?’, she didn’t know,
and she didn’t know that it was for herself that she worried.
And I didn’t know it at the time, but I do now,
and I did at the supermarket yesterday.
So I said it to myself at the checkout,
and grasped at names of thoughts and feelings,
thoughts and feelings as big as categories of ‘dog’ or ‘cat’.
‘Fuuuuuck!’ My son toddled
over to get inside one of those… what would you call them? Trucks.
You know, for toddlers. The ones that take a pound and are always by the checkouts.