04 February, 2007

Worth Repeating

...give yourself away/ And you give/ And you give/ And you give yourself away....

She puts her hands on me. Ah, oh, how good-new-familiar-safe-risky this feels. She touches my hip, and I catch myself trying to turn the wrong way, and remember, I always did this.

"Lie on this side."

I have no idea why it is my impulse to present the spot touched to the person touching, despite verbal instructions to the contrary, but I manage to contain myself to a hesitation, and roll the right direction.

She continues to put hands on me, all over, until I feel wonderful.

Thank you.

"Come see me again." I will, now that I know where you are. Thank you, Dr. Lisa.

Lighter and less crunchy, I head to the vampire place, but there are characters in my head, demanding attention. I need a notebook. This rarely happens. As most people who see me in person could complain, a notebook is a contstant companion, and I have inadvertantly made several people uncomfortable by whipping it out to scribble.

They're howling. I need to hurry.

Seeing no live cashiers, and feeling no small degree of urgency, I steel myself to use, for the first time, a self-check aisle. Instead of choosing an open one, I deliberately stand behind a woman who has three items, to watch and learn.

Pretty soon, we'll never need to even see other human beings. I think of Asimov's The Naked Sun, in which this was literally true.

"Yes, no, that's so true. Okay, have fun." She takes her rattling plastic bag and leaves. I'm on my own.

The screen has big square buttons, with their corners rounded off, for increased friendliness. I touch and wait for disaster. It doesn't come. I scan my items across a glass pane. It menaces me with its blank depth. Uh-oh.

***Need Manager Assistance!*** the screen screams at me.

Uh.

How do I arrange that? It's a cup of coffee, fer cryin' out loud. I don't want to leave without paying for it, but my characters are hollering, and I need to GO. I hit Complete Sale. It gives a total. I feel badly about stealing a cup of coffee. A manager appears at my elbow, like magic. He waves a little card at the glass pane. A sum appears. He points to the Complete Sale button. I touch it. A new total appears. He nods and leaves. We never spoke.

I feed cash to the machine, giving it too much change by mistake because I inserted pennies and nickles before dimes and quarters, and lost track. I retrieve fifteen cents from the slot, with a brief flash of ancient coin-op telephones, and rush from the store with no rattling plastic to distract me from the voices in my head. Ducking into the relative warmth of my car, I scribble madly until my head is quiet.

Now, time to give myself away. My fingers are crossed that I can. The nice lady in the white coat makes me uncross them so she can stick me to do an iron test. The pain of the jab at my fingertip is amplified by the dread that I'll be turned away again.

The dark ball drops steadily in the blue testing liquid. I am good! The blue vial confirms that I am Good!

It takes a long time to drain me of the requisite pint, and when I get up, I am dizzy, which has never happened before in the two-plus decades I've been doing this. "Sit down," the phlebotomist tells me, handing me a Coke- with sugar; ick-ack. I sip it anyway as I sit and watch the end of Groundhog Day.

as I sit and watch the end of Groundhog Day.

as I sit and watch the end of Groundhog Day.

as I sit and watch the end of Groundhog Day.


(With or Without You; U2)

1 comment:

Paul said...

I have had that happen before, where a chunk of something needs to be written and I feel edgy until I do. Writing it feels like release, and after I feel as tired and sated as if I had just had a couple of hours of really great sex. Gotta love it. Non-writers will never understand.

On another note: I always use the self-scan line and a debit card, and can get in and out of the store in record time. Despite that, the regular cashiers all know my face- because the machines stop when I buy beer and make them type in my birthdate. (And sometimes they even ask for ID, which is pretty hilarious for a guy in his mid-40s. Ha!)