Swans Commentary » swans.com April 21, 2008  



I Shop, You Shop, Why Won't She Shop?


by Peter Byrne





(Swans - April 21, 2008)  

He:  Everybody does it.

She:  Everybody's nobody nowhere.

He:  It's the American thing to do.

She:  I'm un-American.

He:  For heavens sake, don't say that so loud!

She:  All right, I was born in Chicago.

He:  That's better. But always add that your parents were born there too. Throw in a big smile, invoke the Creator and...

She:  My parents never set foot in one of those monstrosities.

He:  They had the Union Stockyards.

She:  Duty called. They didn't go there to air their souls.

He:  Souls? Don't be so old hat.

She:  I can't think of anything worse than going to one of those. Christ, I'd rather go to church.

He:  This is bigger and shinier than any cathedral. Go ahead, say the word, m-a-l-l.

She:  The M-word, never.

He:  So your old ma-ma stocked up in the general store on the edge of the prairie.

She:  My mother was no Indian fighter. There was a Greek's across the street that sold the basics.

He:  The basics? Like washboards and Fels Naptha Soap?

She:  For the rest, Wiseacre, we had the Maxwell Street Market.

He:  Jesus, the good old days! So you sashayed out en famille. The family that tug-a-wars together gets mugged together.

She:  No, the muggers were busy lined up on the curb playing harmonica.

He:  You can skip the birth of the Chicago blues and FDR's first three terms.

She:  We gave him a beautiful funeral.

He:  Look, you have to get in the swim. For starters, presidents don't die any more.

She:  I've noticed that. They hang around and snicker at the suckers who put up with them.

He:  Be modern. You don't ride around in a horse and carriage, do you?

She:  I don't ride around at all.

He:  There you are.

She:  Where?

He:  Out of date.

She:  I use the telephone when I have to.

He:  The black thing? That's what we call a landline now. Land, as in dirt-cheap.

She:  It gets me to the Turk. He sells everything we need.

He:  Wait a minute. This is the new millennium and no time for yesterday's takeaways.

She:  The Turk's got a grocery side to his place.

He:  That peasant has no shelves, much less shelf dates.

She:  His boy brings everything over in the basket on his handlebars.

He:  I won't eat food delivered on a kid's bike. Why do you think I got my Hummer with the Alpha Badge?

She:  Because the neighbors got one.

He:  I wanted plenty of cargo space. I have thirty-two inches behind the split rear seat that folds down when the really big sales start. We fill that with our shopping once a week and we won't have to move for six days.

She:  We can just sit there in front of the boob box and chew.

He:  All right, Miss Dynamo. I don't see you taking up action stations for lunch.

She:  The kebobs are on the way.

He:  My stomach's a whirling dervish with that stuff.

She:  The Turk's heavyweight baklavas will steady you.

He:  Get serious. Kit yourself up for a safari this afternoon and I'll take you to the biggest commercial center in the state, maybe in the universe. You can bask in the sun as you fill your cart.

She:  It's snowing.

He:  Dummy. The sun shines 24/7 from those lofty ceilings -- state-of-art lighting. There's always music strumming in the turbo-driven breeze.

She:  I'm not pushing any shopping wagon.

He:  Wait till you see their new hyper carts. They're two storied and personalized. A voice inside says, "Love your neighbor, shopper, just as we love you." Then it tells you what to buy. A beautiful place, brand new acres of it and a main entrance like the Pearly Gates.

She:  Are you offering me a second honeymoon?

He:  They do have a wrinkle-smoothing parlor. Be honest, the Turk offers no variety.

She:  He's got a lot of kids, in all sizes.

He:  For example, what brand of dog food does he sell?

She:  The Turk thinks a dog should eat what the family does, only afterward -- meat scraps.

He:  I'm surprised he doesn't set his scraggy mutt a place at table. Nobody feeds his dog meat anymore. Now listen. The last time I took a cart around I counted seventy-four different pet foods, every one in revolutionary packaging.

She:  The pooch would have a panic attack. Does the stuff have seventy-four smells?

He:  Of course not. It's hygienic. Nothing smells in this century. You're still traveling stagecoach. No smelly grub rides in my Alpha Shield.

She:  You're getting ready to tell me again that I am what I eat.

He:  I would but you're in denial.

She:  Hit me with that cliché again and I'll gulp down the both of you. I'm denying the whole misbegotten mall-evolent mess.

He:  Calm down. I don't think nutrition is the key to your mind.

She:  Listen to him. He's leaving the digestive track for the moral high ground.

He:  You live near a food emporium that could give the whole world heartburn, but your dietary vocabulary wouldn't get you through a famine in the Dark Ages.

She:  If you want celebrity-chef speak, you can watch those guys in funny hats on TV. They make me burp.

He:  Try to be more reasonable.

She:  Okay. That we are what we eat is a physiological banality that hides a deeper truth.

He:  Which is?

She:  That you are what you shop.

He:  Say that again.

She:  What's in the cart, what you bring back in the Hummer. It's you.

He:  In that case you're a pretty small no account bicycle basket full.

She:  Better than a big three-year credit plan.

He:  I'm not a fish wrapped in newspaper.

She:  You're three-dozen pair of socks and only two feet.

He:  You're Monday's donuts on Wednesday morning.

She:  You're a putrid bulk buy of frozen shark fins.

He:  You're homemade yogurt in a dirty jam jar.

She:  You're a gross of Christmas tree lights in August.

He:  You're a no-speaka-d'Ingleesh pumpkin pie made of turnips.

She:  You're a loss leader, you're two for the price of one, you're one extra if you buy three.

He:  That's the doorbell.

She:  I hope he sent two portions of rice with chickpeas.

He:  Do you think he's remembered the stuffed dates?


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art14/pbyrne68.html
Published April 21, 2008