Kay meets a man in the produce section

The forecast was for snow and indeed, it started to drift down lightly in the morning. Kay pondered her options. If it continued to snow and settled in for good, driving would be impossible.  It was better to go to the grocery now than later, to navigate slippery, white  streets. In this micro-climate, hardly anyone had experience with serious winter driving. It became a zoo out there.

The morning was miserable. When the flakes stopped drifting, the precipitation turned to icy rain, asserting itself with vengeance, steady and unrelenting. At midday, Kay drove to Chipper Foods and parked. She huddled under her umbrella as she unhooked a pay grocery cart and rushed into the store full of sunshiny light, warmth and the decorative commercial joy of Christmas.

A bit dazed by the shift in light, Kay rolled the cart to a little used aisle and stopped to collect her thoughts. As usual, she had written a list and then left it at home on the counter.

Milk, flour, butter, onions, lemons for Mrs. Stepford“. The list was not long.She already  had enough fruit and vegetables. She could survive with everything else she had put in the freezer. It wasn’t such a big list. It was just that she couldn’t do without milk, if things got worse.

Once she was accustomed to the bright light and the warmth, the store was not an unpleasant place to be. Wafts of roasting chickens were coming down the air-conditioning. In the in-store bakery, they had cooked some pies or cakes with cinnamon and there was an over-all yeasty smell that was tempting. The store smelled good.

Kay shed her outdoor haste and ambled through the aisles, pondering over the choices of flour – bleached, unbleached, all-purpose, bread flour, whole grain and 60 percent mixed. She selected an all-purpose unbleached bag of five kilos.

In the dairy section, she picked up a four litre jug of one-percent milk then selected butter for her Christmas baking.

She was fingering and squeezing the onions in the three pound net bags when she became aware that a blue clad figure had passed her twice on the other side of the display bins.  Kay lifted her head and watched as a man strode by, then around the perimeter of four rows of bins and came back again. It was almost as if he was getting his walking exercise in the sunlight, since it was so horridly cold and wet outside. Mr. Blue was not even looking at the vegetables nor the bulk food bins.  He was consciously pacing the joint over and over again.

Kay decided he was harmless and went back to her onions, rejecting those that were too soft and those that had too much black mould formations on the outer skins. It was while she was doing this that she became aware of another troubling matter going on.

“Damn feminists.” she heard someone mutter.

In her peripheral  vision, she saw a man behind her,  hunched over, muttering to himself barely loud enough to be understood. It was loud enough to be a disturbing.  His hair was toussled like a bed-head. By his weathered skin, he was an older man, in his fifties say.  His jacket was nondescript, rumpled. Homeless, perhaps, thought Kay.

She caught a few more of his words – a ranting, almost – about women not doing their housework;  the world going to pot and it continued on in trite phrases of chauvinistic gloom.

Getting uncomfortable, Kay turned to assess her situation. Would she have to call a manager? Have the troubled man taken away?

She took one good look and burst out into hysterical laughter! It was Cecil. Cecil from the theatre. Every time Cecil saw her, he was playing some inane character and Kay fell for it every time.

Cecil’s mischievous eyes lit up and crinkled at the corners with the success of his in-store acting feat, then joined in her infectious laughter. Cecil, the actor, spent more time at home looking after his family than his wife did. She had a nine-to-five job; he had irregular hours and looked after more shopping, cooking, parenting and house organizing than she ever would.

As Cecil flattened down his contrived bed-head, they swapped family doings.  Kay invited Cecil and family for Boxing Day. Cecil caught Kay up on his wife’s struggle for equity in her teaching job that was now in the hands of lawyers.  Kay reported on the latest visiting-artist dinner that Cecil had been unable to attend. They shared some opinions on their mutual friends, then assessed the new moderator of the local Philosophers’ Café.

It was last Thursday evening’s Philosophers’ Café on The Decline of Feminism that had fueled Cecil’s latest  one act produce section play. The walking-wounded that had attended the Cafe had been evidence enough of the sea-change that had occurred in our generation of Feministic progress.  Both men and women had hurtled against the rhetoric and the day to day pitfalls of the women’s lib movement in one way or another and the Café conversations had been a litany of old complaints.

“D’you know,” said Cecil as they wound up their encounter, “that man in blue has been circling the produce for a half an hour now. I’ve been watching.”

“Maybe he’s another actor just waiting for a friend to come in?” offered Kay.

Kay  and Cecil took their leave and went back to their respective shopping tasks. Without her usual deliberate selection process, she lifted the first red-netted bag of onions close to her hand into her cart. She picked up four lemons for Mrs. Stepford then went through the till.

She wheeled the cart out into the gloom of dusky light and heavy rain, loaded her purchases into the trunk, took the cart to the empty cart station and extracted her dollar coin.

When she drove off, shivering in the cold car, rain still pelting in winter fury, Kay was carrying  warmth and sunshine  in her heart.

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3 Responses to “Kay meets a man in the produce section”

  1. r8chel Says:

    What a great story! Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

  2. Stephen Says:

    you have some great characters wandering through your stories – I have added you to my blog-roll if that is OK with you. I would like to wander back down this path you have created.

  3. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Stephen,
    I’d be absolutely delighted if you added me to your blog roll.
    Thanks for stopping by and taking a good look.
    K

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