In retrospect, I shouldn’t have bought the Pokemon cards.
I mean, as a stand alone thing a grown man can buy Pokemon cards and not worry about too many awkward stares. Forgetting the fact that Pokemon is an international ‘card sport’ loved by millions, I could have been buying the cards as a gift to a kid. It lines up well. You put the cards on the little black mat and they glide magically to the tired lady with the blue vest that reads Brenda. You meet her small green eyes, smile, and fish for your credit card. She says something congenial, swipes your card pack over a laser scanner then offers to put it in a bag. You pay and the transaction is over. The key is buying the cards alone, which isn’t what I did.
I suppose there are a number of mitigating factors that led up to this particular jam. There was the kid sitting in the larger part of the shopping cart and treating a pack of toilet paper like bongos. There was his mother, fed up and overprotective. There was the girl, friendly and curious–nothing less than the fuse to this whole thing, and then there was me, nervous, hiding the one item I really didn’t want anyone to know I was buying.
She was standing next to me texting on her cell phone. She had on a hoodie and black jeans cut so short that I could see the bottom of her pockets against her legs. Behind her the boy had already launched into his second verse of something that vaguely sounded like Metallica trying to cover The Itsy Bitsy Spider. The old woman ahead of me was trying to write a check. Our clerk looked like she wanted to stab the lady with a pen. I sighed and rolled my neck. I was rocking forward to back, each pendulum swing ending with my eyes landing on my handful of useless junk, which was partioned off from everyone else’s junk by a pair of plastic dividers. I had a bottle of bug spray, four packs of chewing gum, a can of Monster, two rolls of breath mints, a Snickers bar I’d picked up when I got to the checkout counter, and that damned pack of Pokemon cards. The item I was really here for was jammed in my pocket. I planned to pay for it, but I figured on waiting to add it to the pile until it was my turn to pay.
The girl said, “You know there’s a trick to getting the foil cards.”
I looked at her like she’d just spoken martian.
“I could show you.” And she reached past the no-go barrier and snatched up the card pack.\
- Out of time… I’ll actually continue this another time. Feels interesting.