There's this cashier at our neighbourhood grocery store who Barclay and I affectionately refer to as Our Friend. We call him that because that's what he calls us. Every time one of us sees him, it's, "Well, hello, my friend!" He's here today, and I'm not surprised. He's here every day, no matter what time I come.
I'm buying eggs and cream and avocados - when you have a grocery store right around the corner, you can afford to just pop in and pick up a few things at a time. I pick My Friend's line-up, like I always do if I have a choice. I wonder if he knows I do this? Is it weird?
He's chatting up an old woman, who is absolutely loving him. She only has a few things too, and he sends her on her way with, "You have a good day, my friend!" And then it's my turn.
"Well, hello, my friend! How are you today?"
It's worth noting that this guy is probably in his late teens or early twenties. He's got long, dark brown hair and looks, at first glance, like the type who might listen to Metallica and ring your groceries through without a word. For this reason, he catches you off guard the first time you meet him. He doesn't smile, exactly, and his voice isn't quite what I would call cheery, but it's friendly in an old-fashioned kind of way. He sounds like a mob boss in an old movie. Like he should be scratching his chin while he talks.
"I'm good, how're you?" I return, smiling.
"Oh, I'm doin' just fine, like always - you know me, my friend, there is absolutely nothin' wrong here. Got big plans for the rest of your lovely Sunday morning?"
"No, not really." I laugh. I'm not trying to be stilted in my conversation, I'm just literally going home to fry these eggs - but my answer delights him.
"Good. Good! Dick Tracy! Watch Dick Tracy. You'll love Dick Tracy. You've got Warren Beatty, you've got Madonna, you've got Al Pacino - you like Al Pacino? Of course you do. Who doesn't? If you like Al Pacino, you'll like Dick Tracy." He gives a definitive nod. There are no spaces between his sentences.
There is an older gentleman standing behind me in line. He looks bored. His eyes are a quarter of the way shut. His gut is hanging over his belt and he's hunched forward. He's buying four microwave dinners. But at the mention of Dick Tracy, he springs to life. He lurches toward the conveyor belt and slams his fist down, yelling, "I WANT DICK TRACY DEAD!"
My Friend's face cracks into a wide smile.
(Aside: this is the second time I've seen My Friend smile. The first was a few months ago when my grocery bill added up to exactly $23.19. He hit the button on the cash register and said to me, "Okay, your total is...$23.19. OH MY GOODNESS. I have been waiting my entire career for this moment. TWENTY-THREE NINETEEN! WE HAVE A TWENTY-THREE NINETEEN! RED ALERT! RED ALERT!" He shouted it. People were staring. It was a Monsters Inc. reference. I didn't think to tell him in that moment that the kid on my hip was named Sully. I should have.)
My Friend also slams his fist onto the counter in front of him, and echoes the old man. "I WANT DICK TRACY DEAD!" They both give a couple extra fist slams and exchange knowing glances, sharing a common bond across a several-decade age gap.
The old man settles back down into his hunchstance and his bushy eyebrows descend, again, down his forehead. "Haven't seen it," he says gruffly.
Anyway. I didn't end up watching Dick Tracy that morning, simply because I don't have it and don't know where to get it. But the point is that if you hate grocery shopping, you should call me up and I'll give you the name of my place. I'll hook you up. You'll start to look forward to it.