Winter, as Bartholomew J. Simpson might have said, both sucks and blows; from a purely meteorological standpoint, it has little to recommend it, and while it serves a useful biological purpose, usually cited as "It kills those goddamn [species of insect]," it's an annoyance of the worst kind: the kind you can't do anything about. I remember grumbling back around the turn of the century:

The land, almost all the way from here to Manitoba, is flatter than Britney Spears' voice, and once a cold front forms in Flin Flon, there's nothing to stop it from falling right down the map on top of us — and it's no consolation knowing that the Dakotas and Nebraska and even Kansas get it first. If anything, the time lag just builds up the inevitable apprehension.

That said, the averages for this date aren't bad at all: low, just about freezing; high, lower 50s Fahrenheit. A day with these specifications, and without ferocious north winds and cloud cover thicker than yak hair, isn't bad at all. It's the sort of day, in fact, when varying from my standard Saturday routine starts to look almost acceptable. There used to be a KFC at Northwest 59th and May, but it burned down, and while the structure was rebuilt, it has never reopened, as a KFC or anything else. I remembered one other location, east of Shepherd Center (née Shepherd Mall), and betook myself thence, accompanied by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

I didn't catch his name, mostly because I hardly ever hear crew-member names at the drive-thru window and wasn't listening for any. The guy managed to sound enthusiastic without a trace of that Stepford artificiality that upper management thinks is the way to higher numbers on customer surveys. He recommended a menu item in the six-dollar range; before I realized it, I'd committed myself to almost $9. This wasn't painful — it's rare that I get out of Popeye's for as little as $9 — but it was wholly unexpected.

And then I reached the window and I saw him. "Dayum, boy." I generally have no reason to notice Cute Guys, but during my days as a feigned online female, I learned the rudiments of guy-spotting, and I never forget anything that might subsequently embarrass myself. The window faced west, and the sun, an hour before setting, caught him in perfect portrait mode. "Be a damn shame if this guy doesn't have a date tonight," I thought to myself. And to my surprise, instead of my usual end-of-transaction "Thank you so much," I gave out with "See you later."

And as I pulled away from the Colonel's, this song popped up on the shuffle:

Came a verse or two:

I turned around and I saw her at my door
That cute grey mare with the wall-eyed stare
She said, "I've heard you play and sing before.
And I heard a sadness I could not bear."

"I just wanted to tell you that the hardest thing I've faced
Wasn't the teasing or the pain
It was convincing myself I wasn't stupid, strange, or lame
And helping others do the same."

Bless you, Derpy.

A couple of years ago, I was doing old-school grocery shopping at an old-school grocery store, where the standard is three per lane, one cashier and two sackers, and they always offer to carry your stuff out for you. There were indeed three women at this particular station; one of the sackers was configured like a wide receiver and her makeup job was 12-year-old-girl level at best. Now one of the few facial expressions I'm capable of spotting is Sheer Panic, having evinced it myself more often than I'd like; it seemed clear to me that she'd only just begun appearing in public in Girl Mode.

"Would you like help with your basket?" asked the other sacker.

This was something I almost always turned down. I looked at the wide receiver, saw what looked like "Don't make me stay here" in her eyes, and tilted the cart her way. "I think she's ready for a break," I said.

Very broad smile. And after she'd loaded up the trunk of my car and started back toward the store entrance, it occurred to me: what she'd wanted just then, more than anything else, was a scene that was no scene at all, a routine transaction that stayed so for its entire duration. In other words, the kind of scene I'd like to have had happen if I noticed a cute guy at the KFC drive-thru.

The Vent

  9 December 2017

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