Rite Aid Counter Encounter

Last night, I made a routine stop at our neighborhood Rite Aid – my common go-to for Busch Light. (Don’t judge. How can I resist an 18-pack of tall boys for the smashing value of $13.99? That’s equivalent to a case of beer for less than $15. Drink up. Revel in the savings and financial savvy; the very same product is $3 more at the Safeway three blocks away.) I collected my purchase from the cooler and found my place second in line behind a woman chatting awkwardly with another patron whom she was obviously unfamiliar. She concluded her cough drop transaction with precision and efficiency and departed. I hoisted the rather heavy box of my liquid treasure onto the counter and was immediately approached by the same customer who had been talking to the woman in front of me. “Do you want a free ‘Thank you for shopping here’ bag?” Before I could refuse, he was holding out the flimsy, translucent, almost-white with red-block-outlined-lettering that I associate with Chinese take-out. Not so much a modern Chinese chain, like Happy Panda, but a dingy ma-and-pa, hole-in-the-wall on the edge of China Town that produces piping hot, just the right amount greasy, over the top delicious chow mein. (Are you with me? Good, because now I’m starving and thinking of succulent bites of tender, shaved beef accompanied by broccoli florets soaked in a rich garlic sauce with just the right spice bite.) I ignored the principle behind Portland’s bag ban and accepted the stranger’s offering; just to be polite and knowing it could come in handy as a poop bag for Conner. He was visibly pleased with his gesture and continued talking, “Have you been to the Village Merchant?” He asked with inappropriate enthusiasm. “They have so much great stuff. I mean for Valentine’s Day, there is all kinds of sexy lingerie for women… romantic candles and bath soaps for lovers. I bought myself a onesie, a woman’s onesie. I mean just to wear under my clothes. No one will see whether it makes my butt look big under my pants.” He laughed, appearing both proud of his cleverness and embarrassed by the body consciousness he had spontaneously revealed. “It’s for layers, you know to keep me warm, so I don’t have to wear as many clothes over the top.” He continued spewing words like a fountain with no shut-off value. “Today has been a real TMI-day for me.” He laughed again under his breath and went on. “I take a break from my meds one day a week.” He confessed. “My favorite: Hump Day. Just one day a week. The Adderall and the others… they rot my teeth if I don’t get a break.” Before he could say more, I swiped my debit card, entered my pin, took my beer, and wished this man a very happy medication holiday. Happy belated Hump Day to the rest of you!

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