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With great care, Feldman transferred his groceries from the shopping cart to the conveyor belt. The gallon of milk he separated from the box of cereal with carrots, limes, soap and –inspiration– a bouquet of carnations. The peanut butter did not leave the cart until the jam had passed over the laser scanner and tumbled toward the bagger. Tuna and mayo? Feldman secreted the former among tins of cat food, the latter with a jar of pickles and a box of raisins. Bread he would buy from the bakery around the corner, so that wasn't a problem.
To the glassy, untrained eyes of the teen manning the register, no item would have any connection to another, and the sanctity of Feldman’s private, personal eating habits would remain intact. The indignity of squirming like a planaria beneath the dull perception of a stranger would once again be averted. A warm glow spread from his toes and up his legs as he reached for his wallet and watched the perfectly camouflaged groceries parade toward the scanner, reminding him of the fanfare that came in the middle of the Bugs Bunny Roadrunner cartoon hour on Saturday mornings, when the entire Looney Tunes gang would march triumphantly across the stage, Elmer Fudd forgetting his timeless grievance against Bugs in the name of professional showmanship, Pepe Le Peu keeping his libido in check for this one moment of solidarity among the cast:
“…and oh what heights we’ll hiiiiiit, on with the show this is iiiiiiiit!” Yes, Feldman thought, my expert unloading job has surrounded each of my items with a thin film of Sartrian nothingness, obscuring any possible combinations or recipes, preserving my—
What was this? Fuck! In horror, he regarded the conveyor belt's inexorable crawl: bringing up the rear of the parade, a four-pack of Coronet toilet paper. Not only would the cashier have to assume that Feldman was planning to use this tissue to wipe from his anus digested remnants of the groceries preceding it, but by placing it last in line, he had underlined this very fact with a sort of implied digestive chronology! Amateurish, just amateurish.
The acned, Korn-obsessed boy dragged the toilet tissue across the scanner with a smirk. The warm glow that had started in Feldman’s toes moved now to occupy only his cheeks. Once again, for the third time this year as a matter of fact, he would have to scout out a new grocery store.
Date Written: December 19, 2003
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