Wife and I were out shopping to gather together the elements of tall/skinny Daughter’s finicky,  grease-free, bird-like meals, for the weekend, and after we got the food from one end of the shopping-center,  we remembered that we’d wanted paper towels, too, so into the German equivalent of an American “drugstore,” (which is not what is called, here, an Apotheke),  at the other end of the shopping center,  we slipped. Wife is tall, fit and beautiful and she walks sharpish in her skin-tight black trousers and no-nonsense boots, with great elegance, and I relish these outings, zipping along with her, holding hands and chatting about etc.  If no one is watching I discreetly pinch her ass or demand a kiss in this or that aisle, nothing too vulgar, always discreet, always secretive near the soups or cereals,  never putting on a show,  and it’s sweet fun and so much better than going to discos where some couples do go to try,  for some reason, to put on a show.

Wife was a meter or two ahead of me as we swept into the drugstore, in a rush to score the paper towels before the long lines formed. Securing the stuff we had come for we looped along the photo-developing aisle and did a semi-figure-eight toward the check-out lines up front, gathering speed…

… and I looked and I saw, to my left,  near the umbrellas, a fit, young (24-ish?) woman dressed in bling-encrusted faux-elegance (nicely tacky, all in pink and burgundy and gold with a very pale face)…  high-contrast make-up, faux fur jacket, glittering nails,  pretty,  some shoe-store manager’s moll, hair in a high blonde ponytail (like Wife’s, actually), head tilted back at the unnatural angle you’d associate with someone watching herself distorted, with childish fascination,  in a parabolic anti-shoplifting mirror but there was no mirror up there and she wasn’t shoplifting…

… she was clutching a sack from McDonald’s, clutching it with her left hand, gripping a designer purse knockoff with her right while her mouth was crammed with a fistful of very long french-fries, a fistful thick as a fistful of unlit cigarillos,  or long brown wriggling worms, and she was, literally, choking them down, hands-free, her jaws just working and the french-fries feeding down her gullet at a steady rate, a feral feeding process, hands free,  fries sticking four inches beyond the stretched circle of her pumped-up pink lips… down to three inches…  two inches… I  looked away.  Wife and I were in the check-out line.  I looked back. Those working jaws and dead eyes. I was hit with a bona fide nausea. The nausea you’d feel as a modern type stumbling through thick webs,  or across thick strips of guts  upon a hideously natural scene of life and death in the tropics. But who was the modern one here? It was she.

After we were safely out of the drugstore,  with the paper towels that had cost me a little more than I had been prepared to pay, that afternoon,  I said to shuddering Wife,  shuddering, “Did you see…?”


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