Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lapse Man Standing

By W. Bruce Cameron

I'm convinced my brain is biodegrading.

Today I went to the grocery store at least, I think it was today. I had made a list of things I needed, but left the list at home. So I wandered the aisles, trying to remember what I had gone there to buy, finally deciding on coffee. Yes, that's it, coffee, because like most people my age I'm convinced that all I need is a little kick of caffeine and my brain will sputter to life!

I set off with firm purpose, but halted in the pet aisle, suddenly unsure that I had enough birdseed. If you've got a pet bird, you understand the problem here. If it's 10:00 PM and you're out of birdseed, you can't just order a pizza for your bird, even one with a sesame seed crust; you've got to head out into the cold and dark to find an all-night bird-food store, first fortifying yourself with a cup of coffee so you'll remember where you're going.

I finally decided not to pick up any bird seed, because (a) surely I'd remember if I were out, and (b) I don't own a bird.

I stopped at the dairy case, but didn't buy anything because I realized that actually I Can Believe It's Not Butter!

A little while later a clerk noticed me reading the label on some prenatal vitamins and asked if I needed help.

"Yes," I told him. "I'm looking for?" I made vague hand gestures, hoping he would somehow guess what I wanted, since I couldn't actually recall, myself.

He frowned. "You need a Bill O'Reilly action figure?"

I was pretty sure I already had one of those, but I didn't want to appear to have forgotten why I came to the grocery store. "Yes, and, um, marmalade to go with it."

I was following him when we passed the coffee display, and something trickled into my brain that felt very much akin to a thought. "Not marmalade! Coffee! That's what I meant!"

Joyously, I grabbed a bag of the stuff, pumping the hand of the clerk, who was glancing around as if to locate my legal guardian.

On the way to the cash register I walked up the pet aisle and paused in front of the birdseed, feeling troubled about something, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

I paid for my purchase at checkout with a credit card because when I attempted to use my debit card I couldn't remember my PIN. Whistling cheerfully, I started to leave, but the checkout clerk summoned me back.

"Sir! You forgot your card."

I shook my head as if this was the first time in my life I'd ever done something so foolish. The clerk smiled at me when I retrieved my card and turned away, but called out to me when I'd only gone a few steps.

"Sir! Your coffee?"

I stopped. "My what?"

"Your coffee, sir."

I regarded her blankly. "My what?"

"You forgot your coffee."

We stared at each other until finally she sighed and held up the bag, shaking it gently.

"Oh, right! My coffee!" I laughed in a "this-is-our-little-joke" fashion. The security guard appeared at my elbow to make sure there were no additional problems.

In the parking lot, as I backed out of my space, I was startled by a thump on my hood, as if a bird had died of hunger in mid-flight and landed on my car. It turned out to be the bag of coffee, which I had left on my roof as I searched for five minutes for the keys I had been holding in my left hand.

I did not leave the coffee in my car when I got home; I drove with the bag tucked into my lap. However, because I set it down to try to find the house key that turned out to be in my left hand, I wound up leaving my purchase on the front stoop for half an hour. Eventually, I retrieved it and tried to put it in the freezer, but I couldn't there was no room.

It was full of coffee.


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Copyright 2012 W. Bruce Cameron. Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.


Money does not talk. It goes without saying.


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