Trudy and Dave,
They’re outta their minds.
Man, they’re crazy.
But they did it for love!
They arrived at the grocery store and he plopped the little girl inside the shopping cart’s seat.
“Seat belts on a shopping cart?” he said. “God. More regulation.”
She belted the girl in.
“There you go again,” she said.
“What?” he asked, folding his arms.
“Making everything about government and regulation,” she said.
“No,” he said loosening the girl’s shopping cart seatbelt. “It’s just silly. We don’t need it.”
She grabbed the cart away from him and pushed it toward the produce section.
“Who says we don’t?” she asked to no one in particular.
They started looking at the produce. She was by a pile of oranges.
“Well that’s just it,” he said “You want to decide. You and your friends want to decide what’s right and wrong — but reject the notion that there is a objective right and wrong.”
She now had an orange in each hand. He stood leaning next to the baby girl in the cart who seemed amused.
“Well, once again, you have a knack for stating it exactly right,” she said, “but in a way that pisses me off.”
He shook his head and brushed the girls hair with his hand.
“Jesus Christ,” he said. “Can we just shop. I mean I know you don’t shop, you forage, right?”
She hadn’t let go of the two oranges, and she felt her right arm dropping back like a pitcher.
“Are we going to have a fight right now?,” she asked.
“A fight?,” he taunted. “Sure. Choose your weapon.”
By now she’d fully cocked her right arm and threw the orange as hard as she could at his face. She connected. For a moment he was dazed. The orange sputtered and rolled to a stop at the feet of an astonished older lady.
He grabbed an avocado and fired it at her. She dodged it, it missed and buried itself in a pile of lettuce.
He grabbed two more avocados, one in each hand and he walked around toward her. She switched the orange in her left hand to her right.
“All meaning is just constructed,” he said “It’s all just a big construct built by “the man” to keep us down. We have no choice but to revolt and impose a new order to be free.”
She relocated, looking for a strategic spot to answer with another volley. All she sees is a stack of potatoes. She’s happy with her orange.
The old lady wearing what looks like a bathrobe has a death grip on her cart. Her eyes are wide open and so is her mouth.
A produce clerk noticed what was happening too. He mobilized, moving toward them. The baby was amused by the scene.
“Fuck you,” she says “La liberté est le pouvoir de choisir nos propres chaînes.”
She connects with another orange. This time it glances off his forearm and lands in a scale with a clatter. It registers a perfect half-pound.
“Freedom is not limited to choosing an ending,” she yells, grabbing two potatoes. “It’s changing the whole story!”
She fired them, and the both hit him in the torso.
“Ouch,” he said. “Remember I failed my French exam.”
He repositioned himself behind a display of pineapples.
“Je me souviens,” she said.
“But how if there is no objective reference point,” he shouted, running around the looking for a better shot and cover, “No ideal, no God, what’s left but just force?”
Then he fired both avocados. One hit the top of her head where she had her hair all up in a bun. The other one sailed over the top of her head.
“Hey!” the clerk yelled as they repositioned and looked for more projectiles in the stacks and piles of produce.
“You guys can’t be doing this,” he said.
“Language is force, it’s violence,” she said rearming herself with avocados, now on her side of the produce pile. “Your seatbelt critique is all about the assumption that we can’t change the story, make people safer with rules, better rules.”
The produce clerk who wore thick glasses was between them now, right in the middle. He looked back and forth at each of them, holding up his hands like a traffic cop.
“What’s more violent than constraining choice?” he asked. He had his hand on a mango that felt ripe. “We get to choose. We have a reference point. We’re not idiots. We can make sure babies don’t die in the grocery store.”
“This is such a stupid time and place to have this argument,” she said.
“Yes it is,” said the clerk. “It is. Just take it easy.”
“Young man, help us out,” he said, stepping out from behind a pile of fruit. “Is reality, your job, this market, just a construct of some people who made it up, or does it proceed from a long train of connection to a rational past, precedent, tradition?“ he asked. “Is it real?”
“Yes, tell us” she said. “Are you working here because you choose to or because you have to? Do you feel fulfilled by your labor here or is this whole place, your job designed to rob you of your dignity in exchange for your survival?”
By now the clerk was right between them. A few ladies had pushed their shopping carts around like they were watching a drive in movie. The baby still sat eyes wide open, amused, like she was watching a cartoon.
Shaken a bit, the clerk said, a bit desperately, “I just work here!”
They each relaxed their postures, let go of any projectiles and just looked at each other as they talked.
“See, people accept their roles in society and the economy,” he said “to fulfill both the past and the future.”
“No, they work here because they have to, to survive,” she said, “Because that’s how it’s set up. We should change that story.” By now she had her hands crossed over her chest and was leaning on her left leg.
“Sure, but if you change the story, you have admitted there is a story in the first place,” he said somewhat triumphantly. “You’ve conceded narrative is a continuity, and so you can’t say it doesn’t exist.”
“I never said it didn’t,” she responded. “I said we start over.”
Even the clerk could see this argument started a long time ago, long before this crazy couple walked into his section.
“Sure,” he said “But once you’ve conceded narrative, you’ve conceded that people — you or “the man” — don’t just make shit up. You can’t have a revolution without being arbitrary, without making government a consideration of convenience.”
It got quiet for a moment. They looked at each other with what could only be called a longing, a desire from two people seeing each other from a great distance but wanting to be close.
“Do I need to call the cops?” the clerk asked. “You guys can’t be fighting like this in here.”
“Yeah, you’re right, sir,” he said putting his arm on the young man’s shoulder. “Sorry. No cops. We’ll carry on.”
The clerk picked up the spent ammo that had hit the floor and the couple steered the cart and their baby out of produce. The ladies clutched their cart handles and watched them go.
He pulled the baby out of the cart and opened a box of vanilla wafers.
“Don’t feed her those,” she said.
“What, she loves vanilla wafers,” he said as she ate another one out of his hand.
“Those are just crap,” she said “Processed crap. And why did you open the package?
“They don’t care as long as we pay,” he said.
They moved through the aisles. People watched them like they were celebrities and people sort of moved out of their way as they pushed their cart down the aisles.
“That toilet paper sucks, it’s too fluffy,” he said.
“You’re too fluffy,” she said “Don’t micromanage.”
“Well I’m paying for half this,” he said. “It’s my ass too, you know.”
Now they were sort of just hanging on, almost breaking down laughing. Neither of them wanted to be having this much fun with each other.
“You want two separate sets of toilet paper, one for your ass and one for mine?” she asked.
“Yes, I’ll get six of these you get six of those,” he said.
“Fuck,” she said. “That’s just half assed.”
Now they both started laughing. Then they embraced in aisle 8, the one with cleaning supplies and cat food. And they started really making out. The produce clerk watched from the end of the aisle, wide eyed, holding two melons.
They broke apart from each other. She pushed him away.
“That’s enough,” she said.
He went to the cart and kissed the baby’s forehead.
“Your momma is fussbudget,” he said. “But I love her.”