POEMS


Hangers

     “Can we make one more stop?” Kelly said.
 
      It was my understanding that after an hour at Costco one was expected to do nothing more than unload the car and take a nap. 

    “Sure,” I said, knowing any protest would be futile.  “Where to?”  I asked.

     “I need some hangers from Bed & Bath,” she said.

     You gotta be kidding me, we got hangers up the wazoo I thought.  “Okay,” I said.

     We were coming down Canoga Avenue.  The car loaded to capacity with TP, paper towels and kitchen products purchased in bulk.  I pulled into the parking lot at Victory. 

     Pre Super Bowl Sunday business was brisk.  Cars and people everywhere.  Parking, schlepping and shopping at Petco, Sports Chalet, Pier One, Bed and Bath, and Bevmo. 

      I would have loved to have shopped at a place called Bevmo when I was drinking.   A name so user friendly.  As efficient as stamping “Standard” on a man’s urinal.

     I was about to pull into a spot off the beaten path and Kelly said “Oh up there honey,” pointing like a weather vane, “By the front door,” she said, “That black Escalade is about to leave.”

     I cringed.  I hate holding up cars behind me while waiting for a spot with my signal blinking.  I’d been scarred by my father’s vehicular impatience.  Taught early that impeding parking lot flow is a sin worse than getting a “C” on a report card.  “Okay” I said and crept closer to the oversized SUV backing out.  

     I parked and said “Do you mind if I wait here?”

     “Sure baby,” she said in a tone acknowledging my husbandly duties thus far tallied.  “I shouldn’t be long,” she said.

     “Don’t worry about me” I said.  “I’m going to put the seat back and close my eyes.”

     Kelly left.  I lowered the windows, reclined the seat, and covered my face with a newspaper.   

     It was a warm Saturday afternoon in Canoga Park and the sun rays coming in the car felt good.  What could be a better time to rest while most were scurrying about getting ready for the big game? 

     I realized I was being bombarded by loud rap music.   Where is that coming from I wondered and strained up to look.  I saw in my rearview a faded red Ford Explorer with numerous white cut out family decals on the tinted rear window and small arms dangling out the sides.  The entire affair was vibrating.  
 
     The thumping base line and angry lyrics would make it impossible to get any shuteye.  I was more concerned about the young children being held hostage inside. 

      So be it I thought and raised my seat back up.  I began to watch the foot traffic moving to and fro through the large automatic glass doors at the Bevmo entrance.

     A tall, blond, athletic looking man with two small children in tow caught my eye.  He was the type that got all the girls in high school.  Probably played varsity ball.  A starter no doubt who had moved on in his years.  He was still cut and had a chiseled jaw.  He wore a thin tank top, a baseball cap turned backwards, and a thick handle bar mustache.  Probably a craftsman I thought.  
 
     A chubby stock clerk dressed in a red Bevmo polo shirt was bringing up the rear with a keg of beer on a dolly.  The silver drum was labeled “Anchor Steam.”   
   
      Boy I used to love that brew I remembered.  I’d purchased countless four packs, but never knew it was sold in a keg.  Not that that would have mattered.  I still would have run out sooner than expected nor would have appreciated its freshness.  

     “Over there at the end,” the man said to the clerk pointing in the distance.  The two blond kids were fascinated by the large silver barrel balancing on the green dolly.  “It’s the large white pickup at the end with the ladders,” the man said. 

     Then a delicate flower came out the sliding doors.  She was Asian.  I imagined her fragile but decisive.  She appeared well put together with skin that resembled custard colored porcelain.  She clutched a narrow brown paper bag to her chest.  I presumed it was an expensive bottle of wine by the way she gripped it. 

      I imagined her sipping the fine vintage from a cut crystal glass held in her long fingers with manicured French nails.  The thought reminded me of the iridescent humming bird extracting pollen from the trumpet flower vine in our front yard earlier that morning when I went to get the paper.

      She clicked her key thingamajig in the hand that clutched the bottle neck.  The horn in the dated Honda parked next to me chirped.      

      The petite woman was less than ten feet away.  A closer look at her face and I could see her life had not been so easy and she was older than I’d guessed.  Although still rather fragile, I suspected she had sustained more than one beating throughout her life. 

     I saddened.  It became apparent her lineage was less than that of a dynasty and she was likely the daughter of oppressed, working-class factory parents. 

      She opened her car door and our eyes met.  I felt a kinship to the path she’d walked, and to the relief she’d receive from the fermented or distilled liquid contained in the bottle pressed to her chest. 

     The rap music continued and Kelly returned with a fifty count box of fancy hangers and got in the car.      
    “Hi baby,” she said.  

     I started the car and asked “Home?”