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Revelations from a supermarket trip

Social Chaos: Bill's Briefs

Too often, young or old, we see and hear, but don’t look and listen. There is a parade of interesting sights to be discovered in something as simple as a trip to the supermarket. Here are a few random observations from a recent venture into the wilds of Hillcrest to Ralph’s.

At the deli counter was a moderately disheveled and mildly dirty street person whom I often see sitting mournfully at a bus stop. He was partaking of an array of samples handed to him by a sympathetic staffer. Interesting as that was the astounding point was the appraisal he was giving her as to the quality and provenance of the cheeses and meats; his opinions were delivered all in the most beautiful voice and cultured, articulate English. He sounded like an announcer on Book TV. He thanked her most graciously and wandered off. Now there’s a story I’d like to know.

I then noticed a woman with an extremely long scarf wound twice around her neck. It took a few minutes to realize she was following a new fashion and not hiding a goiter.

I don’t have many children in my life so it is always a pleasure to observe them in their natural habitat. How great to see them there with their mom-mom or dad-dad parents. No matter what anyone says, we’ve come a long way, baby!

Wandering the aisles, as is my wont, I spotted a well-dressed, prosperous looking shoplifter who with innocent eyes and sweet smile crammed a T-bone into her handbag. Of a similar ilk were the eaters, sampling as they strolled around, going so far as to open and unscrew packages and bottles to get what they wanted. Likewise the readers, boldly reading an entire magazine or the entirety of several on display. A little sign “This is not a library” might help, but probably only marginally.

Sadly, I noted the increasing number of rude cell phone users; speaking loudly and oblivious to others. Crashing into someone, they glare at them with the implied snarled comment, “Idiot! Open your eyes. Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” What has happened to manners? Gone the way of “lady” and “gentleman” I guess.

But I go too far. I saw much kindness and consideration. People helping others get things off a high shelf, telling them how to find, cook or use something. Fellow-shoppers recommending which brands they use and adding information for getting the best results. I admit, however, I never heard anything to equal the TV ads where complete strangers cheerfully discuss their preferred feminine products. But, maybe that’s because I didn’t shop on that aisle.

I cannot end this without my number one gripe; the shoppers who can not count to 15. OK, one might allow for one or two extra items in the cart, but all forgiveness vanishes when a full cart pulls up and with a “What’s your problem” stare they pile it all on the counter.

With that exception, I hope you can see how an ordinary supermarket stroll can turn into a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Open your eyes and ears; look, listen, watch, enjoy. It’s a fascinating world. And for those who are still single there is the extra incentive of a possible romantic encounter as you both reach for that package with the single pork chop.

Top or bottom

When embarking on a new relationship certain essential decisions must be firmly dealt with if you wish to go beyond the casual hot weekend. Things one does or puts up with during that first raunchy rush of romance might be OK in the short term, but they might not be policies or positions you wish to continue on a long term basis. Too many times one is surprised to hear, “Well, yes, I did it, but I don’t want to do it anymore.” This, after giving up your job, apartment, family, friends and dog to move to the West Coast. Couldn’t this have been mentioned if not hinted at a bit sooner?

My first partner and I had a rocky start many moons ago. He died, as so many did then, far too young. He became a famous naturalist and author with many books still in the bookstores. He was always off in the field with his binoculars and notebook while I stayed home doing the dishes. All went well, but not at first. We were, what seniors can understand, a Mutt and Jeff couple; he was a muscular 6’3” and I a slender 5’6” (on a good day). Many were the wild and naughty comments made at our expense.

As you can imagine we had to make certain adjustments in our personal arrangements, but we felt there was no need to broadcast them. At first, our times together were filled with fun and frolic. Goodness, those frolics. We didn’t pay attention to specifics. We just enjoyed each other and being together. When it came time to move in together, the atmosphere took on a different perspective. Neither of us had been in a relationship and finding out our true priorities and preferences created some tension. Of course, there were the obvious; food, room temperature, morning moods, etc. See my April 27 column Tremendous Trifles at LGBTWeekly.com under Social Chaos where I discuss this in more detail. Not discussed was a more delicate topic and one which caused us more than a few hissy fits (me) and infuriatingly calm and serious discussions (him). Bluntly put: the top or bottom situation.

You might think the disparity in our heights would create a situation with an obvious conclusion. You would be wrong.

The bottom was where he wanted to be. I tried to explain the awkwardness of that for me, but to no avail. I pleaded, “You’re six three. What am I supposed to do, get a ladder?” I pointed out the possibility of my falling or hurting my back. He was unyielding. That was where he had always been and an uncomfortable angle for him (or me) was beside the point. He was so insistent about it I gave in to keep the peace. I later realized it was really a slight OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). He was the youngest of seven children and so all shelves, boxes, bureaus, closets, etc. were already filled by his siblings, so he was given the bottom of everything. Over the years he had perfected that position into an organizational system from which he would not deviate. His excuse was always, “I know where everything is.” I therefore learned to stuff pots, pans, boxes, books, Christmas decorations, assorted junk and “art films” on the top of all shelves, closets, dressers and kitchen cabinets, whatever. True, he graciously got things for me (or handed me a chair), but I never got over the absurdity of it.



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Posted by on Oct 13, 2011. Filed under Bill's Briefs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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