I can always tell which friends have happy marriages. I am included, not shunned. Invited into their home, an open door policy, I am allowed to watch a football game with the husband while the wife attends to a pot roast. It isn’t that I’m more attractive than other friends…no,for some reason, these wives just don’t trust me…Little do they know that I am revolted by their husbands, even the best looking of the bunch, because they’re husbands. Husbands have never turned me on. Men, in my mind, resemble eunuchs when they become husbands. I have never slept with a married man except my ex-husband, and that was bad enough. One good friend whispered to me once, at a cocktail party, “If you ever touch my husband, I’ll kill you.” I never touched him… but he touched somebody else, so there you have it.
On the plane, – sat next to a man who was just hired away from Hallmark cards in Kansas City by Hershey’s. He is a product placement specialist and product development consultant. His job is to convince CVS that Hershey’s chocolate should be strategically placed near the pharmaceutical counter because it makes people feel good, like drugs. They had pitched this idea to CVS years ago but it was shot down. ( granted, this was pre: health benefits of 70 percent cocoa dark chocolate) Anyway, that’s why Hershey’s brought this guy in. A Hershey’s satellite office has been installed in the Woonsocket CVS complex specifically for this purpose. — Chocolate Bars Near Pharmacy Aisles, not just in the candy section!!!!! He said that CVS is all about pharmacy, whereas Walgreens is corner convenience. Hershey’s has no problem with powerful product placement in Walgreens- but CVS MUST be convinced that the pharmaceutical business strategy is not feasible in the long run.
We talked for 2 and 1/2 hours straight. I had only one drink. I offered him some million dollar ideas- about repackaging, going with the 70 percent cocoa benefits- I tell you people!!! I missed my calling, okay!!! I mean, my mind was WILD with solutions!!! I can’t begin to tell the whole story here…the information I pulled out of the guy about how they accumulate data – and how the CVS stores are designed to brain wash you… yuck… okay, anyway– this mornings headline, CVS won’t carry cigarettes. This indicates that CVS is taking the Care and Wellness thing to a NEW level of HEALTH awareness and AWAY from toilet paper, lipstick, dog food, and yes, maybe chocolate. What is to become of my new friend??!!
It has occurred to us all that our lives are finite. If that is so, why do we continue to bullshit ourselves and others? Year after year, day after day, a continuous bullshit routine aimed at humping another rung up the ladder? What are your thoughts on this phenomena? Is it the limbic system encouraging our frontal lobes to mount a campaign designed to placate and buzz-saw our superiors into throwing more bread in our direction? Will the bread satiate our hunger for attention? Look at me! The price we pay for a nod. Our souls. But souls don’t pay the bills. Souls don’t comfort the ego. Souls drain us with self reflection and morality. Is the price too high? Of course not. We are temporary, and in that vein, every man for himself is the call of duty. Take your comforts whilst you can. But know why the buzz in your chest is humming loud, screaming for Xanax, sex, the gym, a movie, the quick passing of the day, head in a book, foot on the pedal, moving forward towards zip.
Without warning, a co-worker- friend, school mate- is struck down in the prime of life by a fast moving truck or mystery virus and we are left stunned by the impromptu fashion of the demise. Wait a minute. That person is younger than I am, if only by a year, but still, they’re dead as a doornail and they had so much press in their favor. Only last month they won that award and had their picture on the front cover of that popular daily news media site. Wait a minute. So what does this mean besides a glowing obituary, front and center column, the photo, the spectacular funeral procession comprised of celebrities with generous words and the specific gravity of their grief….famous grief, monied grief, the grief that comes with the loss of lifestyle indulgence. The recently dead can no longer attend the MOMA or Met openings, can no longer sip the best champagne with other pre-legends in the best places, and oh, the lusciousness of those pre-death hearths, the sacred isolationist hubs of the monied or beautified. Already in a heavenly sphere, death, to these glorificated minutia, is a real bummer, a true loss, a future permanence of noshow status, which leads, of course, to a fading, and being discussed, if at all, in the past tense. Have they lost the game or won the war? Are they the first or the last? In the end, we must turn our backs and continue on our quest for social immortality, that is to say, a permanent invite to the best of the show, before our own sudden disapearance, without a just excuse. I”m so sorry I can’t attend my coronation, i am not of this world. The burden now falls squarely on your living head, you, still functioning, must take over and organize a proper eulogy for the person you despised and wished dead in the first place. The sudden death of a co-worker leaves a void, a void easily filled by you and your constituents, and if they contained greatness, you will over come it, because nobody really thinks the grave is a good place to be productive, although worms would disagree. You, the dolt, can limp on in their place, thumbing through their file cabinet of truths, re-marking them to suit. You are the winner. The surviving Dead Head, ahead of the game due to your continuous breathing out and in, heart still beating, your mediocrity fueled with random luck that only longevity may bestow.
Woman in an Adirondack Chair:
The perfect day is agony. Not a ripple on the lake, although a soothing breeze moves trees, wind chimes, the abundant petunias. It’s a dry air today with plenty of sunshine, late afternoon in late summer, chores completed. No impending bills, social engagements, deadlines. The muffler on the old car has started to rattle but it isn’t a bother today, just a reminder of the wisdom in nursing an old car instead of being pressed with a car payment each month. Continue reading
In a dark casino, next to the stage, the elderly couple in wig and toupee took off their sneakers and slipped into a matching pair of patent leather dance shoes. The four shiny shoes were very still under the cocktail table, waiting for something. The woman in a Dress Barn outfit hugged her purse to her chest like a hot water bottle. Mona Lisa smile on her face, head nodding like a doggie car ornament, she seemed content listening to my droning ballad. The man, fidgeting, finally walked to the stage. He stood head to hem with my sequin gown.
“We’d like to dance.” he said. “We come here to dance.”
It was a Sunday afternoon on a beautiful spring day in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Inside the cavernous casino, the size of three football fields, there wasn’t any weather, any spring, any Sunday. Hundreds of slot machines clanged and whistled under flashing lights and piped in light rock music. Heavily painted, perky older woman and road weary, leathery men with cigarettes hanging from their lips pushed quarters into the noisy machines, hundreds of them, then went to the cashier to get more. There were several men and women in wheelchairs with oxygen tank hoses stuffed into their noses. Their husbands and wives pushed them from slot machine to gambling table to the bar. They were also smoking.
I asked a coughing woman about the smoke.
“They’ve got a state of the art ventilating system here, so it don’t bother us too much.”
My trio had been hired for the 2 to 6pm Sunday Jazz Series. The stage, dead center, had a nautical motif – a life-sized lighthouse surrounded with hunks of painted plastic resembling boulders. I was singing “Old Cape Cod” when the man in the dance shoes interrupted me.
“We need something with a rhythm, dance music. We come here to dance.”
His wife called to me from her table. “We enjoy a rumba.”
The lights on the stage were so bright that I could not make out their faces. All I could see were the shining shoes. All I could hear were the slot machines. I didn’t know what a rumba was. I faked “Besame Mucho” with invented Spanish. Suddenly, everyone was on their feet, alive and moving and happy. Shaking arthritic hips beneath pot bellies camouflaged behind unbelted shirts. Salt of the earth, spending money they didn’t have, manufacturing joy on a Sunday afternoon in a casino, the world that screwed them every day temporarily expunged from their minds.
In the dim light, they were young again, high on nicotine and vodka tonics, surrounded with the hope of a big win. My self righteous loathing for gambling and casinos evaporated. Where else could you take 50 dollars and turn it into an afternoon of possibility? Sure, a few would overdo it, but what was there to lose, really? A double wide trailer? If we all lost the little we have wouldn’t our lives be more exciting? Living under a highway, scavenging for food, a good story in our pocket about how we almost hit the jackpot? Isn’t that better than the drudgery of responsible serfdom?
I come from the same stock. The hardy folk shuffling around the dance floor reminded me of my parents and their ability to enjoy life at a VFW pot-luck supper or a Saturday night dance at the American Legion.
I’d almost felt superior. When was the last time I had enjoyed myself so completely? When was the last time I’d felt hope instead of cynicism? These people in their outdated clothes and sickly countenance had me beat. The casino, for profit, offered an afternoon of hope. An honorable business practice, in my opinion. No matter how futile, hope wins the day.