like buying a loaf of italian bread
he has a wooden soul
i can tell
he keeps staring down at my groceries
in the line
while i’m watching
the cute puerto rican girl ring them up.
he’s one of those who has to talk
and he’s just waiting for the right moment.
the bag of sugar isn’t it.
nor are the peppers and tomatos
i was surprised he didn’t
say anything when the girl
rung up my six-pack of natural ice
but my wife always tells me
that i’m not a good judge of character
this explains why i stay away
from most people
i’m just waiting on him
so is the cashier.
she keeps looking up from my groceries
to me, to him
because he’s smiling wide and shuffling
where he stands
the milk doesn’t do it for him
neither does the toilet paper
or the cat liter
the girl rings up nearly everything
and gives me a total
when he springs into action
see, i knew it, he said.
what? i say
she forgot your italian bread.
which was true
the cashier had forgotten my italian bread
but so had i.
quickly she punches a key on the register
and rings up my bread
i have a new total.
i knew it, he said again,
as the cashier smiles awkwardly at me
and i nod back.
i didn’t think she was going
to give you that bread, he says.
well, everything is all right
with the world, now, buddy,
i wink at the cashier,
thinking i’m bogart.
maybe in another life, sweetheart,
i’m trying to say.
i nod at the guy as he begins
tossing his groceries all over the place.
i didn’t think you were going to give
it to him, he says to the cashier,
as i walk out of the grocery store
thinking how many times have i walked out
of this grocery store
after a moment of lunacy like that.
too many times, i think.
i think maybe i need to start buying my groceries
somewhere where the girls working the registers
aren’t so pretty.
because pretty girls bring out all of the nuts.