drugs side effects

Austin Jerk


Sunday morning meditation . . . I’d like to think what I’m doing is meditating, but all I’m really doing is thinking about this jerk I had the displeasure of meeting on Friday. Somehow I managed to keep my mouth shut and ignore him, but it was really difficult because he had big teeth. Our paths crossed late late at night in HEB, which is my local 24-hour grocery. I wanted to make some pesto since I had all this fresh basil and garlic from the farm, but I had no Parmesan or nuts. I locked my door and walked to Congress Ave. Austin in the summertime is too warm for human life. If Austinites had the option, I think they’d migrate elsewhere every April through October, but instead, because of monetary concerns, most have to stay in this inferno and play like they can take these blistering temperatures. What’s the opposite of snowbirds? O balmy night, O balmy night. Central Texas might as well be desert. Emergency sirens blared down Congress. A passenger in some car with purple neon lights on its dropped suspension hung his head out and shouted, “Fuck you!” Then,

silence . . .

. . .

. . .

Inside the climate-controlled, brightly lit grocery, I got the Parmesan in a green plastic bottle and looked at the obscene prices of pine nuts, which, in a moment of pure inspiration, I decided to substitute with sunflower seeds. I carried the 2 items in either hand and found a spot at the end of the express lane.

A twangy voice:

“You have less items than me.”

A smile . . .

A big tooth . . .

Another big tooth . . .

More big teeth . . .


“That means I should skip ahead of you.”

The jerk laughed after he said this to convince me that he was being sarcastic. I laughed with him. I have no problem laughing. I like laughter more than anything else, especially spoken words. Nor did I turn away after he said this. I didn’t want to seem antisocial.

“Where do you live?” asked the jerk.

I told him nearby, just south of here. He wanted me to be more specific, so I told him the actual road, and he said,

“I just always wonder where everyone lives who comes to this grocery. It’s such a mix of people. Like a democratic convention!”

Any mention of politics makes me want to vomit. I also never have anything to add. I don’t know enough about politics to add anything constructive or destructive to its realm.

“Right?” asked the jerk. “It’s like a democratic convention, isn’t it?”

The jerk laughed after he asked me this, thinking I’d react, and thinking that however I reacted would tell him more about how I voted.

I didn’t laugh with him this time, nor did I give him my back. I stood still with my Parmesan and sunflower seeds. I tried to blot out his big teeth, which were laser cleaned. I tried to mind my own business. But he wasn’t going to have it:

“Don’t think I didn’t noticed how you changed. Once I mentioned democratic you acted strange. I can see straight through your type. But you can’t even read in between the lines. Look around you. This country is being taken over by Mexicans.”

I stayed quiet. I shook my head and pursed my lips. I read the ingredient list in my sunflower seeds. It was late and I wanted to eat pesto. When I reached the conveyor belt, I put my 2 items down and considered not doing the jerk the favor of putting a divider between my groceries and the space where his would soon go. I saw him from the corner of my eye. He was getting antsy, looking at me to see if I’d do him the favor and put the period behind my 2 items so he could begin his sentence.


August 22, 2010 3:55 pm

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