Story by Luke Ryan
Shopping List by Philip Prentis.
I put the coin into the little slot to free the trolley. I slide it out from the trolley in front and direct it towards the door. And with that, the slow march towards death continues by way of a Saturday afternoon excursion to a home improvement store. My wife is striding ahead and I am eyeballing all the other vacuous fools who seem quite happy to wander about in this stronghold for the eternally average. A bunch of idiots, pure bred, from long lines of ancestral idiots, trying to keep up with all the other idiots who live on their street, or who send their kids to the same school, all content in their idiocy. And me. I am not saying I am any better than these fools. Society would probably say I am lucky to grace the company of normal, reasonable people, who tolerate the likes of me with a gritty perseverance. But I do know better than these fools, that's for sure.
They descend here en masse weekend after weekend in their Subaru Foresters and 4x4s, load up on all sorts of useless rubbish and go back and drink ice-tea on their decking thinking how wonderful they are. Probably the closest these vehicles ever get to off road are car-boot sales at the local sports grounds. People getting rid of DVD box sets and Stereophonics albums, because they have finally realised they are awful. Usually to raise money for some good cause. The last one was for a terminally ill child whose father is on the School Board. Of course we had to go. A morning spent listening to the idiots saying how tragic it is, and how they are only too happy to help, when really we all know it is pointless and we are only helping to delay the inevitable. But I am sure when their heads hit their eiderdown pillows that night, they can congratulate themselves heartily on giving something back. In reality, they are probably more delighted that all the community saw them giving something back. I posted an anonymous envelope with to the families postbox with a sizeable cash donation. At least I earn the right to be bitter.
My wife wanted to get a Forester. I told her we can get one if we ever move to a forest. Then she suggested a Renault Scenic and I said when we move to somewhere with a view we can get one. Besides, I refuse to buy a car where the model has a name. A number is fine. The name is just a vague suggestion of how much more dynamic or interesting you wish you could be had you not thrown it all away and decided to become a complete and utter fool like all the other sheep out there. In the end we got a Volvo. Not the most exciting but their safety record speaks for itself.
A ball of string.
The item lands into the basket part of the unmanageable trolley. Are the wheels really trying to move in different directions or am I just not bothered enough to steer the bloody thing? I couldn't care less to be honest. All the other idiots seem quite happy to wield their trolleys across the floors with delirious abandon and absolutely no regard for anybody else. Why can't I join in the fun? The ball of string rolls to the other side of the basket. And with that I spend the next two minutes imagining my life as a ball of string that has slowly unwound, and come apart, and become frayed, getting chopped into many different pieces for use in many pointless tasks, until there is nothing left. And then I congratulate myself for being so poignant. And then I chastise myself for bothering to care. Then I hear her shouting at me to keep up. I resist the temptation to make a face and push the trolley along.
A box of 3 inch nails.
The item lands into the basket part of the trolley with a clunk. And I think to myself, this trip this afternoon is another nail in my coffin, just like all the other trips, and dinner parties with people who like Sudoku and rave about how better their life is since they cut out caffeine from their diet. We were at one last week, four couples, all parents of children in the same class. As usual it was a dull affair. A group of middle-aged parents trying to demonstrate how much better their children are. In an attempt to join the conversation, I remarked that our youngest had recently taken up the violin, only for my wife to cut across me and say, 'viola dahling, it is called a viola'. To be honest I wouldn't know if there was difference, it still sounds like a dog trying to have sex with a cat. And when I said that, my wife just glared at me and the rest of the idiots looked nervously into their wine before somebody exclaimed how delightful the dessert was. And yet, if I just sit in silence at those dinner parties, speaking only when I am spoken to, she gives out to me for not being more sociable. Probably the only good point of these parties is to have a look in the bathroom cupboards and the laundry hampers to see if there is anything interesting in there. There never is though. Why should I expect anything else from the most ordinary people on the planet?
The items lands in with an even louder clunk than the nails. I thought we had a hammer. Probably that idiot from next door borrowed it and failed to return it, as usual. I decide not to ask her why we need a new hammer. The price of the hammer is not very expensive, certainly not worth having a conversation with her. I learnt a long time ago that these expeditions were better suffered in silence.
Again I thought we had one of these but best to keep my mouth shut. At least something interesting has made it into the basket. As I see my wife ahead of me comparing the prices of various planks of woods with all the focus of a laser, I imagine the hatchet firmly lodged into the back of her miserable head. I afford myself a little smile, but not too much, because if she saw that, she would become suspicious. I then start looking around at all the idiots and imagine bludgeoning them repeatedly with the hatchet too. Fun times.
20 wooden planks - 10x200x10000 mm
My help is required here and I load the planks on the broad base of the trolley, trying to organise them so they all face forward and won't get caught on the shelves as I push the trolley around. My wife is telling me they should go the other way as it would be more compact and rather than bother question her spatial reasoning skills, I reload them her way and deliberately push the trolley into the side of another trolley, knocking off some of their merchandise. My wife apologises profusely to the couple and tells me to be more careful and I tell her it wouldn't have happened if we had packed it my way, and she tells me not to be ridiculous and storms off. I turn the planks so they face length ways, as the couple whose trolley I crashed into look at me as if saying please pick our stuff up. And I look back at them as if saying ugh and I go on my way making a point of checking her ass out on the way past.
6 wooden posts - 2 m long, 20 cm in diameter
This time she starts loading them lengthways, like the planks, but without any suggestion that she knows I am right. The worst thing is, once we get home with all this rubbish, I am going to have to do something with it. Specifically, I have to build a new rabbit hutch because apparently the door on the other one is broken and Floppsy or whatever the hell it is called got out last night. Luckily he was found in the garden. It also happily coincides with a request from the kids earlier in the week for a second bunny. I told them that unfortunately the hutch wasn't big enough for two rabbits. They pleaded, and pleaded and their mother said she will see what she can do, and lo and behold, the current hutch, which has been the very secure home to three different rabbit in the last four years turns out to useless and I have to build a new one. And of course the trip had to be this afternoon despite me telling her all week that I was meeting a couple of friends to watch the Rugby this afternoon. I was presented with the argument, who is more important, your friends or your children, and of course I lied and said the children.
I am not even sure what they are for, but again, the price is quite reasonable and not worth actually talking to her. The current hutch doesn't have any pulleys, and I can't really think how they could be incorporated into one. She probably doesn't know herself. No doubt one of the other mothers said that her life hasn't been the same since she bought pulleys, so now all the other mothers are rushing out to buy them. It was the same when one of them started reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. I was mortally afraid that it might make her start wanting to have sex again. And then my mind wandered to Analise, the Scandinavian beauty who is my secretary. She is absolutely useless at her job but that wasn't exactly why I hired her. I had hoped that after the rugby, I could swing by her place this evening for an hour or two, but apparently the hutch must be built this evening in case that glorified rat escapes during the night again.
I see her making her way towards the cash desk. I make my way over and get out my credit card as the store assistant scans the various items and my wife makes banal small talk with him. I toil all week so my wife can laze around at home trying to find new and more useless ways to spend the money. Recently it was 'let's gets another car'. I told her we live in a small city with a centralised population and an excellent transport system. I am happy to take the Metro to work, she can use the car during the week, it would be completely unnecessary. Of course I know she wants a second car because most of the other families on the street have two and god forbid they would think we are too poor to afford one. I do manage to siphon off a little bit of cash each month into a secret bank account so that when this sham of a marriage explodes magnificently in my face in a massive cloud of bitterness and exposed infidelities, and she tries to screw me for every penny I have, I won't be completely ruined. And then Analise and I can elope to somewhere that is hot, dangerous and cheap, and I can continue the slow march towards death, at least a little happier.
I push the trolley out to the car and load the stuff into it. I put the larger pieces of wood on the roof rack and secure them and she gets into the car. Then her phone rings and she says it is her sister, an even more venomous parasite, so I am sure the call will take at least half an hour. While she starts chatting away I slip back into the shop. There are a couple of things I need to get which she doesn't need to know about. I just take a basket this time. I quickly locate what I need and I pay in cash.
4 miniature crossbows
40 crossbow bolts
I get to have my fun too.
Shopping List Story
Luke Ryan |