Written with my Thursday group with the prompts: fascinating, taking orders, Irish Black Pudding, over the top, sat in surgical peace, you get, they loved my Freddie but they loved his money more, the valley of love, the sound of Henry crying, smack dab on the, try another, you get what you pay for. I also must confess that I was inspired by the fact that my new can opener had just broken—only it wasn’t really broken—it just needed new batteries. I love it, but it goes through the batteries awful fast.
“You get what you pay for,” Freddie said, which was his favorite way of making me feel like a cheap fool. All I’m doing is trying to be economical, and besides the can opener came recommended by Consumer Reports. It was actually cute, something that can’t be said often about a can opener. It was made of red and sky blue plastic and it fit neatly in my hand. Plus it only cost $15 which is a great deal for an electric can opener. Too bad it only lasted a month and a half before the blade got bent, and that’s all she wrote.
Freddy took me down to The Food Halls, at the big obscene shopping mall out in the unincorporated area just south of the city limits. They really do call it The Food Halls, as if they’re some kind of mini Herrods. It’s right next to some fancy hardware store, and Freddy always tells me that’s where he’s going, but then he’ll come home with little boxes of aged cheddar or tubes of summer sausage. Last week it was something called Irish Black Pudding, and I admit I was excited. I thought it would be chocolate. Please don’t ask. Just let me assure you, it was not chocolate.
He told me this is where we needed to go, because along with all the food, of course they’ve got all kinds of kitchen items like omelet pans, air fryers, milk frothers, and waffle irons that make waffles shaped like little dogs and cats. Certainly they’d have a suitable can opener.
It was a fascinating place, but definitely over the top, festooned with green and pink silk streamers tied back with fresh yellow and white daisies. Fresh! There were big brass buckets filled with lillies and hydrangeas, and all the sales staff were wearing starched white shirts and black pants, pouring flutes of sparkling apple juice and handing out samples of tiny sugar cookies no bigger than quarters. Three of these young women came rushing at Freddie with candy and drinks. Oh, I could see they loved my Freddie, but they loved his money more. We’d entered some kind of Valley of Love and I knew if I didn’t keep up he’d happily leave me behind. I turned my back for a moment, distracted by a set of golden pickle forks and butter knives, and when I turned around I had lost him to a redhead who was taking down his order like a cocktail waitress. Suddenly there was a parade of young women presenting him with a variety of can openers to choose from while he sat on a bar stool like a potentate commanding a harem.
At that moment I grew suddenly nostalgic for the anesthesia they gave me last month when I had to have an impacted wisdom tooth extracted. I sat in surgical peace, secure in a dreamland under the influence, experiencing an ecstatic harmony I’d never felt in the waking world. All month I’d been flashing back to that drugged dream where the most vivid memory was the sound of Henry crying when I told him I thought it best that we date other people in college. I hadn’t thought of Henry in years, and this haunting dream hit me smack dab in the solar plexus, and I found myself questioning every decision I’d made since then.
“Would you like to try another?” A young man with a tray of stuffed mushrooms asked, pushing at my left elbow.
Thrust back into the cold harsh light I said, “Yes,” as I stared at my husband across the room. “I wish I had tried another.”
Still I helped myself to a mushroom, hoping that I might have been lucky enough to have found a rare distribution center for free Psilocybin. Alice-like, I nibbled at the edge. A break from reality was just what I was craving.
Photo by Lawrence Aritao at Unsplash