While picking up a few things at the grocery store this afternoon — by ourselves! because we figured out the solution to Leta’s public tantrums: leave her at home in her kennel — (I just used a dash, an apostrophe, an exclamation point, and a colon in one sentence, this is professional blogging at its finest) (did you catch that set of parentheses? and just now that question mark? is it obvious that I could use more sex?) when an Elton John song came on over the store’s speakers, the one about the love and the feeling it tonight like a wide-eyed wanderer. A red-headed checker I often see while shopping started singing along loudly, “Caaaan you feeeeeel the loooove toniiiiight?” I would have joined her but right about then Jon rammed the shopping cart into the back of my legs. He’s blind that way.
When we were ready to pay for our sugar packets and applesauce and Valentine-theme M&M’s we hopped into the red-head’s lane. I told her that I had heard her singing, and that I understood why she needed to do it, who can help themselves to such a melodic outburst when Elton John is literally begging you to feel the love, my God, it’s enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best, if the man isn’t a poet I don’t want to believe in words.
Her face started to match her hair color, and since I wasn’t trying to embarrass her I looked at Jon and said, “We totally understand. Elton John makes us want to sing, too. He makes us feel in certain places.” On cue Jon closed his eyes, tilted his head reverently toward the ceiling and started belting out the chorus in a key I can only describe as CAT UNDERGOING PROCTOLOGY EXAM. It was truly awful and loud and uncomfortable to behold. Hurt-causing. Perfect in every way.
Just then the woman in line behind us tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Are you Heather?”
I tried to remember if I had met her before and I experienced one of those punch-in-the-gut moments when I couldn’t place her face. She knew who I was but I couldn’t remember who she was and I guess that’s what it feels like to be forced against your will to drown live puppies.
“I read your website,” she said saving me from crawling underneath the cash register to hide from my shame.
“Ohhhhhh,” I said. “People ask me if I get recognized around town, but I don’t really, and you’re the first person to notice me at the grocery store.”
She hesitated and then came clean, “I have to admit, I didn’t realize it was you until I saw your husband.” I wonder what gave him away, the beard? The seventy-five inches of pale human jutting up from the earth? Or could it be that he just performed a convincing imitation of a farm animal taking it up the pooper?