A happy story in times that trouble

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

Like so many of us, I’m consumed by the news and then so tired of it or confused by it I don’t pay any attention for a while. Then out of the very back of my brain, my trained-to-be-informed childhood aims its pointy finger, and I feel I’m not being a good citizen. I whine a bit (everyone gets to whine now because we have a model whiner to lead us) about whatever influence I have is only in my vote, which, in the years 2000 and 2016 didn’t count for much; but I return to the news, however helpless it makes me feel.

So, when something really cool happens, I am at first not sure it’s happening. I disbelieve. But my better side finally allows me to think about and then embrace the important thing, the remarkable thing (in the good sense of the word), the loving thing. Here it is:

I am at Walgreens to buy antihistamines and a bag of potato chips.

I’m in line, and the woman before me—honest to goodness so gorgeous—skin, eyes, hair, outfit—that I tell her what always impresses me most, never having had it, that she has really great skin.

She laughs out loud, hugs me! The day this happens we are still in the coronavirus hysteria of NO NEWs from the Doctor in Chief and from the experts’ instruction on how we should be “social distancing” ourselves from everybody. And a stranger hugs me!

She says, “You are the best thing I’ve heard today!”

We smile widely at one another, and it’s her turn at the register.

The clerk says to her, “Do you have a Walgreen’s card?”

The beautiful woman says, “Uh, no. How do I get one of those?”

The clerk asks, “Do you have a driver’s license?”

The beautiful woman says, “No. I don’t drive. Should I go get my boyfriend?”

The clerk says, “I cannot sell you alcohol without ID.”

The beautiful woman says, “But I just need a bottle of wine because we’re going to a dinner party.”

This scene makes me nuts because I’m an antiauthoritarian type to begin with, and this “rule” is beyond stupid. The woman who is trying to buy a not great but a not bad bottle of burgundy is beautiful, granted, but it’s obvious she’s way over 18 or 21 or whatever the state law is. But what I already know is that no matter what age you appear to be, if you’re buying wine or tobacco, you’re carded. I’ve been at this Walgreens before. This is simply one more way that I and everyone else are being tracked, followed, ID’d, pointed out as drinker-smoker-pill taker-buyer of anything.

I say to the clerk, “Just put her bottle of wine on my bill and she and I will figure it out.”
The beautiful woman smiles at me, the clerk says, “Uh, I can’t do that.”

I say, as I move the beautiful woman’s wine bottle over to my pile of two things, “Of course you can. I’m buying pills, chips and wine.” I hand her my Walgreen’s card and my Visa.

The clerk, who is a pleasant woman, not an officious sort by any means, looks at me in bewilderment.

I smile at her and say, ”It’s okay. Just ring it up.”

The transaction takes place, I grab my two items and move the bottle toward the beautiful woman, who lays down some bills, pushes them to me, grabs her wine and says, “I’ll remember you, girl!” And she scoots ahead of me out the door

I gather the beautiful woman’s wadded-up bills and follow her out. She is already in a silver Corvette, her boyfriend rumbling the two of them out of the parking lot. I look at my receipt from Walgreens, my chips and my pills in one hand, three crumpled twenty-dollar bills in the other.

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