In an unusual move, Costco had some fresh fruit items set out near the store entrance, right across from the electronics, in advance of the July 4th holiday. The cherries–a dark, copious Hollywood blood red–looked delicious but it’s ingrained in me that cherries are too expensive to be a casual snack. The peaches were a beautiful color but hard as boulders to the touch.
I picked up one of the watermelons as it had a nice broad patch of white on the underside, a sign of sweetness. The nectarines were relatively firm but with a deeper caress I felt the flesh give way, my fingers leaving small indentations. Perfect. As I made my way further inside my favorite food brothel, I picked up some grapes and hunks of meat, eating and drinking my way through the samples. Only in America.
The US is the only place I’d like to live, probably, although with enough money I could live like an American anywhere. But I can’t say I actually celebrate Independence Day. Back in July 4, 1776, my ancestors were anything but independent. In 2010, there still are plenty of “freedoms” that only look good on paper, but at the very least, I appreciate the day off and the sales on cookout food and accoutrements.
So we cooked out, my husband and I, at one of the many county parks with public grills, just the two of us. We set up our camp with the ease of mature hipsters who had done this sort of thing a million times before. While others in the park were dousing their fires that were climbing out of control to the heavens, or stamping out the flames of coals that had spilled out of the grill and fallen to the ground, our burgers and hot dogs were serenely cooking, dripping grease through the holes we made in the aluminum foil.
We talked, people watched, played cards. When my husband wasn’t looking, I blinked out for about 20 minutes and completely disappeared into the notebook I brought to work on my poetry. I forgot where I was and my husband brought me back as I was gone too long away from him. A small lapse: At least I didn’t bring my laptop. My news-junkie husband brought the Sunday paper but didn’t read it. Neither of us wore watches, although we each checked our cells phones once apiece. I sent a short text to my daughter.
After a long, relaxing afternoon we started to pack up. There were people next to us who were just starting, and judging from the number of hot dog roll packages they were setting out, it seems they were expecting a sizable crowd. Before I knew it, a young women from their party came up to me pointing desperately at my cooking utensils. “Please, can I have your tongs? I was going to buy some but I ran out of time. I’ll give you five dollars for them.”
I was surprised that she had noticed them and I had not known she was watching me. She was good. The tongs, though sturdy and attractive with the wooden handles, were bought some years ago at the dollar store. These thoughts crossed my mind as I pocketed the dough. She thanked me profusely and wished God’s blessing on me, which I need. Priceless.
When we got in the car, I checked my phone a second time. My daughter hadn’t texted me back yet.
© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2010.