You see that guy? The one making his way down the supermarket aisle, picking up cans and putting them back, eying things like mops and pots and pans, holding them as if to weigh them, like an ape holding rocks, putting them down. You rightly surmise that he is a sudden bachelor.
You craned your neck as you passed him in the aisle, as if going past a car wreck. You noticed he could use a shave and his shirt was mis-buttoned so one tail hung lower than the other. That dull, scared look in his eye? Surely you had seen that before? Like an animal in one of those Sarah MacLachlan commercials? You thought, finishing up your errand and preparing to head home to your warm house, replete with wife and kids, there but for the grace of God go I.
What you didn't know, passing the lost-looking guy in the aisle, that flashing forward 2 years after the apparition in the supermarket, there with or without the grace of God you went.
You are at the same supermarket, it's 11 at night, and now it's you fumbling through the aisles trying to figure out what it is you need. To paraphrase the immortal words of Christine O'Donnell, you are him. Actually she said I am you, but whatever, it's still creepy.
That's right--your sudden bachelorhood number came up, like snake-eyes or something else unlucky, and then there you were, blinking in the pitiless fluorescent light while you ran the same gauntlet down the aisles.
You grabbed random items many of which you would never use and would ultimately leave, three years later, shoved into a closet of the apartment above the pizzeria when you were finally able to move into something normal. Reflecting on it years later you realize you were desperate to start bringing a semblance of order to your furniture-less and barren apartment and, for that matter, to your deconstructed and chaotic life.
You got home that evening and unpacked all the stuff onto the floor only to discover, shortly before midnight when you prepared your dinner, i.e. a poured a bowl of cereal and nuked some frozen waffles, that you forgot the milk. Okay. Alright. It's just another blow, another stupid test, like the court skirmishes, like the frozen bank account, like the kids walking into your apartment and laughing at it then saying they want to go home. It's just another step. Backward. Don't they say one step forward ten steps back?
After debating whether to just pour Coke on the Corn Flakes, but then remembering the movie from which that idea came, Where's Poppa, God that truly dates you, you are old, really old, no one remembers that movie now except you--you conclude that it's too pathetic, even for your current reduced state, to have cereal with Coke. Accordingly you get dressed and venture out once again into the frigid January night and arrive at the supermarket parking lot about 5 minutes after the market closed.
No milk? Really? Like you had such a big list? You didn't even have a list. It's not like when your wife would send you out and you would just do as you were bidden. Apparently when it comes to domestic things, you were a better soldier than general.
You also didn't know--another lifetime ago swerving by the befuddled guy in the aisle--that upon arriving in the vacant parking lot, you would sit in your car under the dull glare of the parking lot lights, your mind racing as the car idled, reviewing yet again the ruins of your once vibrant life and how you got to this place. Your thoughts careened between searching your memory banks for a 24 hour market, berating yourself for not moving to the city like any self-respecting suddenly-bachelored guy should do where 24-hour markets and women and lots of things abound, and then as the first few flakes of snow began to fall, rehearsing in your mind pretty much every error you ever made from dropping that pass in the end zone in eighth grade- to earn the name flubber for the rest of middle school and all of high school, that's right, ALL of high school- to the last fight you and your ex had in a restaurant, can't remember which, can't even remember what it was about but it was a marriage-ender, that's for sure.
There it was, your whole life spread out before you like--to quote Eliot--a patient etherized upon a table. And here you are. Smack dab at the beginning of your sudden bachelor journey.
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