Yesterday afternoon, Caroline and I were off to Target to pick up the odd collection of essentials usually involved in trips to Target. About twice a year, like 80 percent of the population, I am stricken with mad allergies. I've been on every OTC pill on the market. I've tried every prescription drug hocked in TV commercials with people frolicking carefree among flowering trees and pet dander. None of them worked. The only thing that has ever worked for me is Sudafed, and not that fake Sudafed that’s out now but the old one, with the ingnoble, much poo-poo-ed pseudoephedrine. A few years back pseudephedrine was exiled from the shelves like some rabid societal menace thanks to idiot methheads who were baking it up in suburban labs. Now, trying to purchase old Sudafed is a huge process: You have to sign a release and present a photo ID so they can run your name through a computer to make sure you haven't been buying the stuff in bulk. I have no problem with the red tape. The product really works -- and if you happen to get a little bonus buzz from it, what's the harm?
"Can I help you," the pharmaceutical assistant says, stepping down from his perch. He is a thirtysomething dude with a pervy little rat tail circa 1985 -- and not an ironically retro one -- he is just a hick. He looks at the Sudafed card, sighs loudly and grabs the box from the shelf. Then, he pauses, turns slowly toward me and starts tapping the Sudafed against his chest. “So, did you hear they found a meth lab in Framingham," he says. “No, I hadn’t heard that." “Yeah. Well. They did," he says. Long silence. Still tapping against his chest. “Do you know what they use to make meth?” “Um...could it be Sudafed? Yeah I’m well aware." I'm starting to feel like I am in the deep South trying to purchase birth control pills from some Jesus freak at Walmart. "Can I just sign and go, please," I say. He continues his loud, loathesome sighing; a martyr bleeding inside for a drug-free America. I print my name and scribble my signature beside it, trying to get out of this bad episode of Law & Order as quickly as possible. Suddenly: “Mama, what’s a meth lab?" I glare at pharmaceutical hick “That's awesome. Thank you very much. ” I snatch the Sudafed off the counter, throw into the carriage and storm off in my yoga pants and wifebeater. "What's wrong," Caroline asks as we swerve around the corner into the paper products aisle. "Nothing, sweetie, he's just a very bad man." "You're a very bad man!" she exclaims so loudly that I'm certain he's heard it. "That's right, baby" I yell just as loudly, drawing the stares of other customers. [By now, you know I’ve already emailed a rant to that Target and its corporate headquarters.]
On the ride home, Caroline sings along to the radio: "They tried to make me go to Rehab and I said NO, NO, NO."