I have the receipt in my hand, officially checked with blue highlighter by the attendant, as we wheel our two loaded carts out of Costco. We get to the truck and as the Bearded One opens the tailgate, I glance at the receipt and the total seems high to me. We did buy the champagne for my little sister’s 50th birthday party this coming weekend. Still…
And then I see them. Mega This-or-That Vitamins and Fish Oil Supplements, two entries totaling over $50, and I snap. Not physically. I look perfectly normal, for me. But I can’t breathe, or move, or think. It’s all feeling in the initial shocking moments of deep personal assault.
I fish the two plastic pill bottles out from under my carefully selected steel-cut oatmeal and organic cane sugar and match them to the sums on the receipt.
Meanwhile, the Bearded One is dutifully unloading our monthly supplies, one gigantic boxful after the other.
My hands start to shake. I want to weep. Like when I seeded the sweet peas this weekend, the worms are all coming to the surface trying to breathe. Everything that has made me mad for the last decade about the entire profit-driven food and health industrial complex is right here. How I detest all this stuff. My efforts are for naught. I am defeated. Hell, I’m insulted. Who needs good food if you can just eat vitamins!
“I am soooo mad,” I choke out. I stomp to the front of the truck, open the door and slam it shut. Then I open it and slam it shut again. The truck rocks. “I want to go home!” I grab my purse and turn to march back inside the accursed big box store with its loud flashing screens so as to cancel my eye appointment scheduled at 1:30, in 35 minutes. I take a few big steps away.
The Bearded One toots the horn. My heart stops with the sound, and I turn and see him sitting in the passenger seat. Come back to me, he is motioning. You are in a crazy place.
I’m standing there alone in the empty parking space in front of our truck, at the outer edge of a parking lot the size of an airport.
And there he is, behind the windshield in the 1991 Toyota 4-Runner that is our sole transportation and that he dutifully took to Virge the village mechanic this week for a brake job.
The anger in my body stops rising. I am mad, but I am breathing, and I can talk now.
And we do talk, and I do a bit of yelling inside the truck with the windows up. Health insurance, our budget, my healthy cooking and the endless pharmaceutical ads for high blood pressure and cholesterol. How on most any other subject, I’m comfortable giving him $50 leeway. It takes me most of the half hour to get over this breach. It’s just too much money, I say. He has no strong feelings about the purchase and says he weights my discomfort heavily. He’s willing to just go ahead and die years earlier. He grins. Damn him. He offers to return the supplements and I insist on it.
We get home over an hour later, and I’m still weak, but the eye doctor was absolutely a sweetheart and the Bearded One did the rest of the grocery shopping alone while I got the eye exam.
He even checked his blood pressure at the grocery store and it was fine as per usual.
I park in the driveway and see Ruby behind the gate. Garfield sits on the deck railing. And there is Sweet Tart, our new hen who is recovering from a dog bite, scratching and pecking, not a care in the world. They are all getting along now. Sweet Tart is the only chicken ever allowed in the back yard.
In fact, I have the distinct impression that the dog and cat are actually protecting her after the trauma this weekend when a bald eagle snatched our littlest banty hen right out of the lower pasture. I saw it from the window, the stark white of its head and neck sticking up in the middle of the flock of chickens, who were
frozen in place as their only defense.
I watched with my somewhat blurry distance vision — soon now to be corrected with new glasses — as the huge bird that Benjamin Franklin so famously mourned as our chosen National Bird took off across the berry patch with Dusty in its claws. Ben said the eagle was “a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly.” Ben voted for the turkey, but it just wasn’t majestic enough.
“Ruby and Garfield are protecting Sweet Tart,” I say.
The Bearded One nods and bear hugs me from behind. He says a few things, but all I hear is, “I’m sorry.”
“I had a hissy fit,” I say and smile just a little. “I’m sorry, too.”
“After we unload the truck, I’m going up to the barn and start carving you a wooden ladle as a gesture of good will.”
“And I’m going to order you your own personal blood pressure cuff from Costco.”