"I'm going vegan," says the thin young man behind the butcher counter as he weighs a portion of meat. "I guess that's kinda weird since I work in the meat department."
"It's a good thing for the environment," replies the customer, a middle aged man with graying almost shoulder length hair. "Do you have a juicer?"
"No," the youngster replies.
"You really need a good juicer," states the customer. "N.....s are the best ones. I have had mine forever. It's 40 years old and I can't get it fixed any more. You really need one. Do you have one?" he asks the young mother behind me. She has a little girl by the hand and a smaller one in a sling around her neck and shoulders.
"There, that's the future," says the woman who is just ahead of me in line, nodding at the children. Their mother looks self-conscious and the little girl just looks confused.
"Those are great shoes, " I tell the little girl. Her eyes light up as she smiles. Her shoes look like they are made of gold glitter.
"Say thank you," the mother instructs her. She does. I'm trying to distract Juicer Man but no such luck. He goes on and on about the juicer. The mother asks about its price.
"You can look on the internet and get one for under a thousand dollars," says Juicer Man.
"How much are they new?" she asks again.
"Oh, about twenty-five hundred."
"For that, it would have to clean my house, walk my dog and chauffeur me around town," I say. (I'm thinking that it would also have to provide me with orgasms on demand but there are children present so I don't say it.)
Juicer Man tells Vegan Boy that he also wants some chicken and keeps on talking about the juicer and the environment, his comments apparently intended for Young Mother.
"I've stopped cooking," says the woman in front of me. I'm eating just about everything raw."
I wonder why she is buying meat but I don't say anything.
"I am almost vegetarian," she goes on. "I just eat chicken and not much of that anymore. It is a long road."
Young Mother and I are making eye contact and trying not to laugh.
Juicer Man tells Vegan Boy that he also wants some salmon.
Lady in Front of Me says that she has seen the head guy from the market with his girlfriend. They were making out. She does not say where or when this occurred and I don't ask. She might say she was looking in their windows and I don't want to know that.
Juicer Man gets his salmon and says that will be all for now. He moves on still talking about the environment.
Lady in Front of Me takes Vegan Boy to the far end of the counter. I guess she is getting cold cuts. That's a relief.
Vegan Boy asks who is next. I raise my hand. He comes back to my end of the counter. Remembering when I had to take four kids to the grocery store, I turn to Young Mother and ask if she would like to go next. I'm not in a hurry today.
After a discussion about why the sale price that she was expecting is no longer in effect, she gets her chicken and leaves. I wonder if she only got half as much as she intended.
Vegan Boy turns to me and I tell him that I want five pounds of chicken.
"Twenty-five?" he jokes.
"Five," I say, holding up five fingers.
"Six?" he asks.
I tell him that the vegan thing is affecting his math skills.
"Being vegan is good for you. It helps you lose weight, too. I want to have a six pack by summer," he says.
Did I mention that this boy is thin?
He weighs me out seven pounds of chicken. "Did you say five pounds or five breasts?" he asks.
"I'll just take what you have on the scales," I say. He wraps it up and thanks me for putting up with his lousy math skills.
As I push my cart into the check out line I hear the clerk at the next register over saying that yes, she has read the Four Agreements.
"It's the best book. Everybody should read it. It's good for the environment," says Juicer Man.
"She went to get her bags," says the clerk in my lane to the bagger. "She left them in her car."
Here comes Lady in Front of Me. "I just feel better when I have my own bags,' she says as she hands them to the bagger.
I'm still trying not to laugh. In fact, I am thoroughly enjoying my trip to the grocery store. I keep thinking that I am having a truly South Austin experience and I am savoring every minute of it.
Soundtrack for this post: Bagger by Michael McNevin.