All that remains of the herb stuffing is one stale crouton. Women ransack egg cartons and use Pam as mace. Visigoths sacking Rome. Suburban moms in a desperate skirmish for the last pumpkin pie. Same difference.
One wrong move -– a wobbly wheel, a tart bagger, a Six Flags line at the deli counter -– will send this wool-coated mass of hot and itchy women into a prison riot. We cling to that sliver of patience that keeps us civilized and not fanging someone’s carotid artery.
Thanksgiving. Yeah, I tell myself, I’m thankful all right. Thankful Mr. Corn Connoisseur finally decided on creamed over the low sodium version, thus enabling the angry horde behind him to inch forward.
Narrow aisles burst thirty times past capacity. The woman next to me is packing a shank she made from a turkey baster. In the no-pass lane, a man pushes a Hun toddler in one of those elongated carts shaped like a race car. Cranberry sauce cans topple as junior plays barbarian at the gate.
A brunette’s eyes bore into me. “If this woman will just move her cart,” she snaps, jerking her chin toward me. Seven other people surround her, but she zeroes in on me, blaming me for crowds AND for scientists downgrading Pluto as a planet. She’s as much holiday cheer as Joan Crawford waving that Comet can.
As the hour grows dire, so does my anxiety. When I open a cooler and grab ice cream treats, I fear both my arm and the door will be sheared off as a maniac hurtles toward a newly opened checkout. I glance at the bottle of Merlot in the cart. Any more stress, and I’ll chew off the cork and guzzle it right here in front of the Cocoa Puffs.
Wheels squeal as I make turns at 45 MPH. I’m almost done. Whoops. Lingered one second too long in front of the frozen pizzas. A woman glares. She might engage in a game of Ram-O-Cart.
I began this journey, calm and festive, at the produce section. I am now in the toiletries, sweaty, twitchy, and with broken teeth. Through blurred vision, I see the Enquirers and Peoples. Ahhh. The checkered finish line.
As I steer my purchases out the automatic doors and bask in the final gleam of fluorescence, I step into the cold, piteous night of lawlessness. The parking lot. Pioneers facing wolves and tomahawks had better odds.
Then I exhale, relieved. The Boy Scouts are not only selling wreaths and trees, but pitchforks and torches. I should be home in five minutes.