28 March 2011

I'm Down with Ghandi

It was an average Saturday morning; I was shaking the lint from my filthy reusable shopping bags on my way to the market.  Caroline always comes to Stop & Shop with me because she likes to use their EasyShop device where she can scan and bag the items herself as we go along. And she knows she can always sneak in a few extra 600lb Gorillas in along the way with zero protest. I like the bonding time and appreciate a shopping experience that affords minimal interaction with the deli counter and cashiers.  I hate small talk.

Aside:  EasyShop is also the milieu of (mostly) unintentional shoplifting, which is a post for another day.

Next to the scanning kiosk, a young woman and her daughter from the Unitarian Church were collecting items for the local food pantry – pretty successfully, considering the towering assortment of groceries stacked around them.  Also hulking over them: a 60-ish burly gent who was decked out in burnished denim and enormous white sneakers.  His neon white hair was shaking beneath his Sox cap as he spoke with animated gestures. From a distance, he appeared non-threatening, like someone’s grandfather who would jokingly shoot at you with a pricing gun while stocking shelves.

But after a few more steps we realized this man was ranting in the woman’s face, telling her, in no uncertain terms, that she and others of her ilk were going straight to hell.

Caroline and I joined the semi-circle of onlookers who kept their distance, eavesdropping, exchanging glances:  Who is this guy and what is his fucking problem? 

We were all fidgeting.  Do we say something?  I have my daughter with me. This kook is probably armed to the teeth! 

FOOD PANTRY WOMAN: "With all due respect, sir, what do you think happens to peaceful, God-loving Buddhists, Muslims, Jews?"

BIG WHITE SNEAKERS:  "They all go to hell too. It’s in the Bible!"

At this point, I was convinced John Quinones from “Primetime: What Would You Do” was lurking behind the Cheez-It pyramid with a camera crew.  It was hard to believe that a real person could be this mindfuckingly backward.  Or so unabashedly obnoxious.

The woman’s daughter was tentative, but unfazed.  She handed Carrie and I a list of items the food pantry needed, which included baby formula, school snacks, and juiceboxes. Heathens!

FOOD PANTRY:  "With all due respect, sir.  I disagree. I don’t believe God is religion. He’s larger than that." 

BIG WHITE SNEAKERS:  "No! This isn’t a matter of agreeing to disagree! You are wrong!  Get it through your head! You’ve been brainwashed!"

Aside:  This is a huge pet peeve of mine.  The moment someone tells you you’ve been brainwashed, they should be immediately disqualified from any debate.  What they’re saying is they’re too arrogant (or na├»ve) to believe that they could ever (ever!) be unduly influenced, regardless of how long they've been stewing in their own broth. You could be brainwashed, of course, but not them. Never them. They are right. You are wrong. There is no other side. In a situation like this,  a true exchange of ideas is impossible.

The Food Pantry woman continued to hold her own while this buffoon raved on about the fire and brimstone that await her.

I realized this guy is exactly the type of person who Ghandi was speaking about when he said: ”I love your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

FOOD PANTRY: "With all due respect, I disagree."

It was probably the frustrated pacifist that lives inside my soul, because the words "with all due respect" made me dry heave a little. My words were projectile:

“Excuse me, please stop staying that! He’s not worthy of your respect.  He’s not trying to have a conversation, he’s just yelling in your face."

She smiled and said thank you. "It's ok." 

Then I turned to Big White Sneakers. My actual words are in quotes, my thoughts in parentheses:

“What is wrong with you?”  (Dickhead).  “You are harassing a woman and a child who are collecting food for the poor! “(Is this how you get your ‘Christ on’?)  “What else are you doing today, beside harrassing people?”

BIG WHITE SNEAKERS (he's got black eyes, lifeless eyes, like a doll's eyes): “I support what’s she’s doing, just not what she stands for.”

ME:  “Did she ask you?" (You narcissistic pig)

SEMI-CIRCLE BYSTANDER: (chiming in, thank Christ!) "Maybe your time preaching could be better spent besides, you know, screaming at people collecting food for the poor."


A decent pile on ensued, but we stormed away in search of John Quinones, almost overturning an Entenmann's table in blind rage. 

Caroline said, “Mom, that man was a butt.”

Indeed he was, Sweetpea (with apologies to the butts). 

By the time we were checking out, though, I was still seething, determined to EasyShoplift a juicer and hurl it at Big White Sneaker’s head if he were still there. (also very Christ like).

But he was gone -- probably off to deface some “Coexist” bumperstickers in the parking lot.

We donated some juiceboxes and gorilla cookies to the food pantry box. 

03 March 2011

Random Quizzilla

1. What is your favorite time of the day?
Usually the very beginning or the very end, depending upon the day.  Yesterday, it was lunch time. Had a superlative lunch and prosecco toast at Sportello with Doreen, one of my dearest friends, former editor and Eastie cohort who is officially five years cancer free this month. 
2. Tell me about your grandparents.
Maternal grandparents:  Aurora (Nana Rora) & Charles (Papa Charlie).  Nana Rora worked in town and also cared for my Italian-speaking great grandparents -- Big Nana and Big Papa -- who lived upstairs.  Papa Charlie worked as a bricklayer in the Charlestown Navy Yard.  Both died very young so my memories are limited (MF cancer).  I remember Charlie swirling ice in his drink and always having one of the grandkids on his lap.  I remember Nana Rora being glamourous. She wore Chanel No. 5 and was always dressed up, including hair and make-up, even while cooking four-course Sunday dinners. She brought us Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins after work every Monday night.  Paternal grandmother:  Mary Agnes (Nana Rie). I've written about her extensively on this blog. She went by "Marie" most her life, having told everyone her real name was Marie Antoinette. She always disliked her nunnish name, which certainly didn't suit her.  Nana Rie was a single mom who worked as a secretary. She took the train to work every day and once boarded it wearing only a slip because she'd forgotten to put her skirt on that morning. This may have happened more than once.  At age 37, she got breast cancer. This was the 1940s when it was a death sentence.  She died in perfect health after being struck by a car on her way home from a dance class at age 81.

3. When was the last time you were truly startled?
The other day, a freakish wind gust caught the storm door and slammed it so hard against the side of the house that I was convinced (convinced!) it was a home invasion.  Shit! I slid across the kitchen in my fleece socks and headed for the back door.

Of course, Vito was right on it:

Are you shitting me?

The V himself was startled moments later when some curious flamingos flocked our front yard.  He charged at them but quickly retreated when he realized they weren't dispersing the way seagulls do on the beach.


4. How have you changed in the past year?
I'm more of a morning person and a homebody these days. I still love to stay up late and get out on the weekends, but during the week it's like Grey Gardens in here.  The house would have to be on fire to get me out the door after 6 p.m. on weeknights  -- except for Flash Mob rehearsals, of course.

5. Name something thing you consider a "bonus" in your life.
Having some friends who are musicians.  Winning!