Last week, I’m drivin’ back from Bangor where I’d been (what else) shopping. It’s a new year, and I decided to freshen up our bathroom with new towels. You know it’s bad when your husband notices.
“Charlie, what’s up with the beach towel in the bathroom?”
“Geesh, the ones we’re usin’ are the worse for wear, kind of thin and scratchy, so I thought I’d give that one a go instead.”
“You’re right, we do have an Econo Lodge kind of thing goin’ on. I’ve been too busy to deal with it. But things have quieted down. I’ll get right on it. You know how much I love a shoppin’ assignment.”
“That I do, dear. Make sure they’re dark.”
“You know, so they won’t show the dirt.”
Armed with some coupons and sale flyers, off I went to the big city, solo. Not the kind of shoppin’ excursion you bring a friend on. Ended up getting some dark colonial blue towels at Macy’s. But, of course, you can't stop there. Went to Home Goods and got matchin’ rugs, and then I thought, Oh, those are all kind of dark, I’ll brighten ‘em up with some new bathroom accessories: trash can, drinkin’ glass and toothbrush holder in deep coral and tied the whole thing together with a cute little curtain. Take that, Martha Stewart!
All that shoppin’ tuckered me out and it’s all catchin’ up with me on the drive home, so I stop at a Circle K (well, we call ‘em “the OK” in this neck of the woods), somewhere on the outskirts of Bangor, to get some coffee and some candy.
There’s a guy behind the counter working the register, one of them fellas you know isn’t as old as he looks: scraggly hair, tooth missing, reeking of cigarettes. Behind him, also on duty (why else would she be wearing that smock) is a woman, middle-aged, uncomfortably heavy, long grey hair hanging down, sitting on a stool, starin’ into space. “Pam,” it says on her name tag.
As the guy’s checking me out, another fella who’d been makin’ a delivery comes up to the counter. “Hey, Pam, how you doin’?”
And Pam goes, “Livin’ the dream, Frank,” no expression in her voice, her face, her eyes. “I’m livin’ the dream.”
Well, wasn’t that a Stephen King moment? I hightailed it outta there before the world outside that particular OK ceased to exist.
On the way home, I got to thinkin’ about Pam. I’m probably never going to see her again, or the scraggly haired guy, or Frank for that matter. Cause you can bet, I’m not goin’ back to that particular OK. But every time I drive past that place I’ll be thinking of Pam, frozen in time, livin’ the dream.
Do you ponder things like that? I’ll see a guy passing me on the highway and what’s he doin’? Picking his nose (or “mining for boogers,” as our third grade teacher, Mrs. Wilson, used to say). I’m thinking, this is the only time our paths are ever going to cross, and he’s picking his nose! Anyhoo, when I got home and Charlie saw all the bags, he smiles and goes, “I can see you can a good day! How much did you save?”
This is a little game we play. I tell him how much I saved, not how much I spent. “Oh, over a hundred and fifty dollars, Charlie. And FYI, this does not count as my Valentine’s Day present.” Truth be told, we don’t exchange gifts at Christmas, so we can do this kind of thing when necessity strikes.
I showed him what I bought and he pretended to look interested. Then came the fun of strippin’ out the old and putting in the new. And folks, our bathroom looks pretty darn spiffy if I do say so myself. Makes me smile every time I see it.
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!