Aisle after aisle, dream foretells misadventures


I can't tell exactly where I am, but I'm pretty sure I'm dreaming. Fluorescent light filters through big shiny balloons. Is that Oprah? And Obama? Is that them together? Does Mrs. "The President" know about this?

The floor underneath me is sticky, and with each step my shoe grabs with resistance only to pull it up again at the end of the stride. Why is the squeaking so loud? Why is everyone staring at me? Where am I?

I continue my sticky walk, feeling uncertain, naked almost, as if the whole world is watching. As I look around I'm surrounded by flat screen TV's that aren't playing anything but commercials. Am I at a florist? Hundreds of flower bouquets stimulate my visual wits, but the aroma doesn't match up, I smell coffee. I glance toward the smell and see a Starbucks right behind me.

I'm so confused now, the barista roles her eye at me, weird that she only has one, and it's not where you'd think only one eye would be, I do a double take to reassess the bizarreness but she is all blurry now. She says something to me in slow motion but I can't hear it, I don't even understand how I know she's talking, but she is.

Without realizing, I'm floating 8 inches above the ground moving past people. Six-year-olds text each other discussing the price of Google stock and making play dates. My eyes dart back and forth as my cruising speed accelerates. Blurring by I feel sentimental like it's a special someone's birthday. If only I could buy them a gift card... Oh there they are: Outback, Best Buy, iTunes, it doesn't matter: I zoom by too fast to grab one. My reflex responds quickly enough to grab a frozen pizza wrapped in cellophane, I use it as a steering wheel, frustrated that the frozen pepperonis won't stay in place. Before I can avoid it, I smash right through a pyramid of toilet paper rolls.

When I come out of the jumbled white fiasco the pizza is replaced by my steering wheel, I'm in my car getting a lube and oil. A uniformed man comes out and looks at me as if he's holding a limp, lifeless puppy in his hands, shakes his head and says, "this is your air filter, this is you air filter on dirt, any questions?" (I don't know why all of the sudden I crave an omelet.)

"I just want to warn you," he says. "Warn me about what?" I say. "You may be able to go a bit longer on your current filter, but you could be putting your family and your country in danger. You may suddenly blow up your engine and roll your car all at once as your breaks go out, probability says you will hit a telephone pole adjacent to a nuclear plant causing a worldwide chain reaction that melts people's faces off."

I pass on the air filter anyway.

Why is my seat so uncomfortable now? I blink and realize I am sitting in one of those lawn chairs surrounded by the best and worst bodies in Hollywood. Wow, Britney really is developing cellulite. I'm back wherever it is that I am, I scratch my head knowing deep down there was a reason I came in here. Maybe it has to do with this stuff in my hands. I feel so distracted. Why would I have bread and milk in a basket? What does that have to do with celebrity cellulite and gift cards? This strange, amazing place is making me angry now, I can't place the rage, but something feels off. I better pay for these items I think, so I get in line. There are 15 people with exactly 14 items. Wait, that lady has a six-pack of beer, so she actually has more than 15 items, or does she?

Finally a person without a sense of humor asks me how I would like to pay for this.

She points to the mini computer in front of me, somehow this makes sense. I swipe a card through and it gives me my total.

"Can I interest you in a mail-in-rebate? If you spend a half-hour filling out this paperwork and send the bar code, receipt, proof of purchase, a piece of cheese and a dirty sock, we will send you $2 back and you'll automatically be enrolled in our shopping club where you may be qualified to get 2 percent of your yearly purchases back, provided you save the packaging for everything you buy this year and overnight it to us via UPS."

My anger overtakes me. The people behind me stare like drones with emotionless faces.

"Listen," I say loud enough for the whole place to hear me. "I don't want a rebate, I don't want to join your club!"

I'm yelling now, "I don't want to donate any money to prostate cancer, I know, I'm insensitive! Stop and look at the insensitive man! While I'm at it I don't want to make my drink a large for 10 cents more, I do not want this in my head; I would not like this in a bed! I don't want to put my cable, phone and Internet together and save money."

I plead with the people like a politician the night before the election, "I don't want fries with that! I'm satisfied with my life, 15 percent off won't fulfill me!"

The louder I try and talk the more my voice is drowned out by the perfectly timed beeping of the scanner. I yell over it as loud as I can at the clerk, "Can you turn that off!" When I turn around to ask her again, she is gone.

I do a quick 180 and I see my alarm clock blinking and churning out that dreaded noise. I check my agenda for the day: grocery shopping.

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