The old woman in the leopard-spotted top scowled. I saw her out of the corner of my eye standing before the self-checkout machine, muttering, scowling, but I stayed behind my desk because customer service.
"What's my password?" she said. "I never had to do this before! This is CRAZY."
I got up, inwardly grumbling like an old man, and went over to the self-check.
"Your password is your four-digit birth year," I said.
"Yes! And I've been typing in 1545! That's my birth date!"
"Uh... unless you're a vampire, that's probably not your birth year."
"Ooooh." Her painted lips puckered, and then she laughed, touching my arm. "Ha, ha, ha! YOU are FUNNY!" She winked at me and pulled at her wig.
On my way back to the desk Todd gave me a look.
"Come over here," he said.
With his gloved hand, he lifted the collar on my shirt. Then he recoiled with horror.
"Your shirt--it's polyester! UGH. Get your plastic death away!!"
I stepped toward him.
"All right, geez."
The leopard-spotted lady smiled at me. Her hair was pink polyester.
"So, uh, anyway," I said, avoiding the woman's come-hither gaze, "my dad got his medal of honor at CU. The stadium played 'Rock Me Like a Hurricane.'"
"Barf," Todd said. "A medal? Just another object to throw away in the landfill."
"We-ell, if you look at it that way..."
Todd was distracted--he was looking to his left, and down. Karen had suddenly gone over to the cabinet, crouching. Her butt crack showed.
"I mean, all of civilization is one giant trash heap that will go into a landfill someday... everything, you know... uh..."
Todd kept darting his eyes to Karen's butt. Then he glared at me. My eyes replied: Yes, I see it too.
"Anyway, it means a lot to my dad, so it won't go into the landfill until I get it. Then I'll put it in a slingshot and fire it at the nearest--"
"Greg!" Karen said. She had finally stood up, much to Todd's unsubtle relief. "I need you to come into the office!"
Todd scowled. Another thing he hated.
"I'll be back in a minute."
"Sure you will."
We marched to the office and shut the door.
"Greg," Karen said, "I feel terrible. I can't feel my legs."
"Oh. That's... not good."
"No. My feet are tingling. It's awful..."
Karen was silent for a long moment.
"You should go home."
"I will. But first we need to come up with a skit for the elementary schools next week."
"Are you sure?"
After brainstorming for two, possibly three minutes, I came up with a Brechtian play exploring the Real of reading in an athletic context. Get ready, set, READ! As a final delicious touch, I thought we could have some good comedy revolving around a starter's pistol.
Karen stared at me. "Greg, we can't bring a gun into a school."
"Oh. Right. How about a rifle, then?"
At that moment Todd poked in his beard. "That old woman keeps asking about you, Greg. I think she wants you."
I stood up. "Okay, great! Wish me luck, everyone, I'm going to ask her out. And if all goes well, I won't have to keep using the C-word on my blog!!"
Todd jumped away from my shirt as I went past him. TO BE CONTINUED