He stood in front of me, about five feet tall with a buzzed scalp, wire-rim glasses and a maroon, button-down shirt. The lack of a necktie, paired with khaki pants and expensive-looking leather shoes, made me believe he had left work hours before and stopped for a quick cocktail or two (or more). It was nearing 9 p.m., and he had that slightly disheveled look about him that said, quite simply, “happy hour.”
But one more stop was necessary before heading home – or to someone else’s home – this balmy Wednesday night.
The proof lie clustered together on the Walgreen’s check-out counter: a box of Trojan condoms, a bottle of personal lubricant and two bottles of Naked fruit juice, the flavor of which I was too concerned to confirm, as I didn’t want the shopper ahead of me in line to catch me peeking at his purchases.
I considered his items and made the expected assumptions of this man’s plans for the remainder of the night. I couldn’t say I was entirely surprised. This was, in fact, a 24-hour pharmacy.
Until, that is, I noticed the final item being rung up by the helpful Walgreens checker with the shaggy brown hair, the young face, the slight stubble and the signature blue vest: a can of Lysol aerosol disinfecting spray. It was the kind you might find under the bathroom sink, used to deodorize the smothering air after an all-too-unnecessary “meal” at Taco Bell or McDonald’s at 1:47 a.m.
The Lysol lead me to believe that the young lady (or gentleman; if anything I’m open minded) who would share in these purchases would most certainly spend the evening at the said man’s home.
The Lysol, he thought, would temporarily eliminate the funky odor emanating from the poorly lit and bacteria-laden latrine he calls a bathroom in his dingy, one-bedroom apartment in Dundee that he calls historic and trendy, while others call just old and sad.
It could be that the cheap and pungent sage-scented candle he quickly selected at his neighborhood gas station could not – literally – cut the mustard (odor).
And so the man who gently tossed down a $20 bill for his purchases – while I patiently waited behind him hoping to look like I wasn’t looking while waiting to buy bottles of shampoo and conditioner (on sale for $2.99) – looked eager to exit Walgreen’s and offered a “Thanks, man” to the cashier. It was clear our shopper was tense, and I got the impression he wanted to, in some bizarre and masculine way, bond with the male cashier behind the counter. He nodded his head in the direction of the cashier as he grabbed his change and bag of purchases without waiting for his receipt.
As I approached the counter to pay for my shampoo and conditioner, I nodded and raised my eyebrows in a way that said (without actually saying), “Whoa, what about that guy?”
But my feeble attempt at a non-verbal observation only left me looking like an asshole.
# # #